Defending champion Roger Federer is out of the Australian Open after Greek 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earned the biggest win of his career to reach the quarter-finals. The Swiss lost 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-5) on a dramatic night yesterday.
Federer, a six-time champion, failed to reach the last eight in Melbourne for only the second time in 16 years. Tsitsipas, 20, saved all 12 of 37-year-old Federer’s break points on his way to a famous win. “I’m the happiest man on earth right now, I can’t describe it,” he said. “I beat my idol. My idol today became pretty much my rival.”
Federer lumped a forehand long to leave Tsitsipas serving for the match in the fourth-set tie-break, and the youngster forced him into a backhand error to win in three hours and 45 minutes. Tsitsipas dropped his racquet in celebration and seemed to mouth “me?” at the crowd, expressing his shock further by covering his hand with mouth, before starting to cry as he walked over to celebrate with his team. “That moment is definitely something that I will never, ever, ever forget,” he said. “This match point is going to stay, I’m pretty much sure, forever, for the rest of my life.”
Federer was aiming to win a record seventh men’s singles title at Melbourne Park, moving him clear of world number one Novak Djokovic and Australian legend Roy Emerson. But the 20-time Grand Slam champion was undone by a player considered to be one of the best hopes to take over the mantle when Federer – along with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – retires.
The pair were contesting their first ATP-level match, although did meet last month in a Hopman Cup tie which Federer edged in two tie-breaks, indicating their contest in Melbourne could be equally tight. Tsitsipas’ fearless and energetic approach unsettled Federer, seemingly putting doubt in the former world number one’s mind on the key points.
Federer failed to convert any of 12 break points, with some errant forehands particularly letting him down. “There are always multiple factors in match like this, but it didn’t go well on the set points,” he said. “I didn’t break him at the Hopman Cup either, so something is going wrong. It is very frustrating.”
Tsitsipas will play Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat Croatian sixth seed Marin Cilic in five sets, in the last eight. And the Greek believes he is on the verge of “something big” and could perhaps even win the tournament. “That’s why I’m here, playing to win the trophy,” he said. “I want it really badly.”
Second seed Rafael Nadal swept aside former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals without dropping a set. Spain’s Nadal, 32, beat Czech Berdych 6-0 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in Melbourne.
World number one, Novak Djokovic would be playing today against Daniil Medvedev from Russia ( world number 19) at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
BY CHUKWUELOBE ONYEDIKA