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Six-time Australian Open champ Roger Federer is upset by Stefanos Tsitsipas
MELBOURNE — Stefanos Tsitsipas, quickly becoming the Greek god of tennis, ruined Roger Federer’s chance of winning a 21st Grand Slam trophy at this Australian Open.
The 20-year-old Tsitsipas, the youngest player still in contention in the men’s draw, handed two-time defending champion Roger Federer, at 37 the oldest man remaining, a 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) defeat.
“There is nothing I can describe it to,” said the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas to the crowd after his win. “I’m the happiest man on earth right now.
“I actually from the very beginning to keep that mindset on the court, to believe in yourself and your capabilities on the court. Roger is a legend in our sport and I have so much respect for him. I idolized him since I was six and it was a dream for me to be on Rod Laver with him.”
Federer, who owns the most Grand Slam titles of any man in history, has not won a major since last year’s Australian Open. He didn’t play the French Open, failed to capitalize on a two-set lead over Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, and bowed out in the US Open fourth round.
“There are always multiple factors that go into a match like this,” Federer said. “It’s very frustrating. I lost to a better player who was playing very well tonight. He hung in there, gave himself chances, which is not always easy.”
After two early mini-breaks in the fourth set tiebreaker, the score went to 5-5 with that 10th point an ace by Federer. But that was the last gasp for the Swiss champion.
The third-seeded Federer was in the market for a record seventh Australian Open trophy, but after winning the first set couldn’t consistently challenge the younger and more energetic Tsitsipas.
Tsitsipas, who trains at the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy where Serena Williams also is aligned, is now into his first career Grand Slam quarterfinals. No other Greek player has ever appeared in a major quarterfinal.
Ahead of the eighth game of the fourth set, Tsitsipas seemed to be slowing down and experiencing tightness in his legs. During the changeover, the trainer came out and rubbed his legs, which gave him the momentum necessary to reach the finish line.
Tsitsipas, a former No. 1 junior player, comes from a sporting family.
He is coached by his father, Apostolos, but it is his mother, Julia Salnikova, who was a top Soviet player in the 1980s. His grandfather, Sergei Salnikov, was part of the Soviet gold medal soccer team at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne.
The quarterfinals will see Tsitsipas facing 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, who knocked out sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, a finalist here last year, 6-7 (8), 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.