Idol Federer becomes Tsitsipas’ ‘rival’

Tuesday, 22 January 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Tennis - Australian Open - Fourth Round - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, 20 January Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts after winning the match against Switzerland’s Roger Federer - Reuters

MELBOURNE (Reuters): Having toppled 20-times Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday, an overwhelmed Stefanos Tsitsipas felt thrilled to have turned his idol into a “rival”.

The shaggy-haired 20-year-old’s 6-7(11) 7-6(3) 7-5 7-6(5) triumph at Rod Laver Arena made him the first Greek to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam while condemning Federer to his earliest exit from Melbourne Park in four years.

John McEnroe told the terraces they had just witnessed “a changing of the guard”, and the reigning NextGen ATP champion also felt the weight of the moment after sealing match point in front of a heaving crowd.

“It was a very emotional moment. It was something — a beginning of something really big. I felt joy. I felt happiness. I felt a huge relief going out of my shoulders,” Tsitsipas told reporters.

“That moment is definitely something that I will never, ever, ever forget. This match point is going to stay, I’m pretty much sure, forever, for the rest of my life.

“I just managed to close that match and stay strong, beat my idol. My idol today became pretty much my rival.”

Melbourne’s large Greek community came out in force at Melbourne Park and belted out songs of support at the Grand Slam Garden adjacent to the stadium.Tsitsipas will hope to reward their support by blazing a trail to the semi-finals and maybe beyond if he can beat Spain’s 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in his next match.

It will be a match of two maiden Grand Slam quarter-finalists and Tsitsipas was confident he could progress, so long as he kept humble.

“You need something extra to beat those players. I did show that today,” he said.


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