Tsitsipas dream continues as he storms into semi-final

S Tsitsipas d. R Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)

Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas has become the youngest player since Novak Djokovic to make a grand slam semi-final, edging out an exhausted Roberto Bautista Agut to advance on Rod Laver Arena.

There were wild scenes inside Melbourne Park, with Greek fans draped in blue and white descending into deliriumthanks to the Greek’s big win.

In what became a war of attrition after the second set, Tsitsipas held his nerve to win in four sets, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

“It all feels like a fairytale, almost,” he exclaimed after the match.

“I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for.”

Things didn’t begin well for the Greek, who was broken in the opening game of the match by the much more experienced Bautista Agut, who is 10 years his senior.

The 20-year-old appeared to be lacking the same zest and energy as he displayed against Roger Federer, perhaps still feeling the effects of what was a gruelling four-set encounter.

But the 14th seed found his rhythm, breaking back after a successful challenge to make it 4-4.

A big inside-out forehand winner gave him two set points in the 12th game and despite throwing one away, he took the set 7-5 despite arguably being the inferior player.

In the second set, Bautista Agut was once again able to break the serve of Tsitsipas early.

But he learned from his previous mistake, not allowing his younger opponent back into the set.

He very nearly had a double break to take the set with Tsitsipas serving at 3-5, but the Greek held serve and forced the Spaniard to serve out the set 6-4.

With the first four games of the third set racing by, a break and a consolidation saw Bautista Agut race to a 4-2 lead and suddenly things were looking bleak for Tsitsipas.

But it was at this point that Bautista Agut began to tire.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos TsitsipasCREDIT:AAP

It musn’t be forgotten that on top of the Spaniard playing his round one match against Andy Murray in a five-set epic, he also had to beat Australian John Millman and No.6 seed Marin Cilic in five-set encounters.

It began to show, with Bautista Agut’s serve falling away badly in the third set.

Tsitsipas immediately broke back and despite throwing away two set points, he made no mistake on the third attempt.

Bautista Agut – who was clearly trying to shorten the points to conserve energy – played a neat drop shot but Tsitsipas hunted it down, delivering a sumptuous back jab up the line to take the set.

The fourth set bucked the trend of the previous three, with no early breaks of serve.

In fact, there were almost no points against the serve to speak of. There were just two in the opening seven games between both players.

The set looked destined for a tie-breaker, apart from the Bautista Agut’s double fault at 30-30 to hand his opponent a match point.

The Spaniard saved the match point with a glorious forehand winner, but that will now only be remembered as a parting gift to the crowd.

He had run out of gas. The breaker was a mere formality, with Tsitsipas taking it seven points to two, collapsing to the ground in glee as he became aware of his achievement.

No Greek tennis player – man or woman – had ever reached a grand slam quarter- final, let alone a semi.

At just 20 years of age, Tsitsipas becomes the youngest player since Djokovic in the 2007 US Open to make a major semi-final and the youngest player to make one at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Source: Theage.com.au

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