January 22, 2019
Stefanos Tsitsipas calls it ‘the complete tournament.’
If the young Greek could manage the greatest hat-trick in tennis, others might be more tempted to label it miraculous.
The chance to beat Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the same event looms for Tstsipas.
He defeated a drained Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2) to set up an intriguing semi-final against Nadal, who brushed aside Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
Most neutrals would give Tsitsipas little hope against a Nadal in such rampant, seemingly unstoppable form.
But Tsitsipas has other ideas. And what he says must command respect, because he said much the same thing before defeating the great Federer.
‘I lost to Nadal on a hard court in Toronto 6-2, 7-6. But I came away thinking it was close and I could do better next time.
‘I learnt a lot about what he does and I have nothing to lose, only positives to gain.’
Whatever happens, the tide is turning and the new kids on the block have started to make a serious impression on the legends.
As Tsitsipas is keen to point out, every time one of the so-called “next generation” plays one of the all-time greats, they figure out something new.
What it takes to win. Little weaknesses in the older superstars. How the top players have stayed so successful.
It will be fascinating to find out how effective an apprentice Tsitsipas has become.
Meanwhile Petra Kvitova shed tears of joy as she reflected on her return to the top of the game after a knife attack threatened her career.
She could be world number one by the time she leaves Melbourne, but for now she is just thrilled to have beaten Aussie favourite Ashleigh Barty in two simple sets to make the semis.
Kvitova doesn’t care about the ranking, she is just delighted to be experiencing the big-time once more.
‘I’m calling it a second career,’ she said. ‘Playing the Slams and going deep, that’s what it is about and that’s what I am doing,’ she beamed through those happy tears.
She faces Danielle Collins in the semi-final, after the surprising American came back to beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in three.
But it is the ultimate showdown between Kvitova and another Wimbledon title winner, Serena Williams that everyone would love to see.
There may have been less drama on this particular day at the Aussie Open. But it is the prospect of what lies ahead that is so exciting.