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Stefanos Tsitsipas continues sensational Australian Open run: Greek young gun battles past Bautista-Agut to reach maiden major semi-final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 22 Jan 2019
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first Grand Slam semi-final with a 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 victory over Roberto Bautista-Agut
  • Tsitsipas to play Rafael Nadal in the last four
Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his sensational run at the 2019 Australian Open on Tuesday when he defeated Spaniard, Roberto Bautista-Agut in four sets to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

Tsitsipas defeated Bautista-Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 to set up a semi-final meeting with 17-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal.

The 20-year-old Greek had pulled off the most significant victory of his career in the previous round, beating 20-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer in four sets, but he showed no hangover on Tuesday, backing up that big win with another quality performance against Bautista-Agut. 

 “I knew that win against Federer was important, played a huge role in my image, like who I am”, Tsitsipas said. “But I knew that the biggest challenge was today's match, that I can prove myself once again.”

Again, Tsitsipas entertained with his all-court game, winning 27 of 55 points at the net. He sent down 22 aces, and hit 68 winners in total, giving up just 38 unforced errors in the three-hour and 19-minute victory. The Greek is now the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Novak Djokovic made the last four at the US Open in 2007.

“I feel a bit emotional but not too much because no, I worked real hard to get here. At the start of year I said my goal was semis of a grand slam. When answering this question I thought I was crazy. But no, it is real and it just happened.”

Both Tsitsipas and Bautista-Agut were contesting their first Grand Slam quarter-finals, and it was the Spaniard, who was a perfect 9-0 for the season heading into the match, that made the better start, breaking in the first game of the match when Tsitsipas slammed an overhead into the net on break point. The Greek grew stronger as the match progressed, winning five of the final six games to turn a 2-4 deficit into a 7-5 lead. A wrong-footing forehand winner gave him two set points on Bautista-Agut’s serve at 6-5, and he converted the second when the Spaniard sent an attempted pass into the net.

Stefanos Tsitsipas. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Bautista-Agut gained an early advantage in the second set, breaking in the third game when he flicked a backhand winner after chasing down a Tsitsipas drop shot, and he maintained that lead through the set, with neither man able to generate any more break points. Just like he had done in the first two sets, Bautista-Agut got the first break in the third set, putting away a short forehand winner for a 3-2 lead, but Tsitsipas reeled him in, winning four straight games from 2-4 to take the set. He once again demonstrated his athleticism and touch to slice a backhand winner down the line on his third set point.

If Bautista-Agut was to reach the semi-finals from there, he would have to win his fourth five-set match in five rounds, having already gone the distance against Andy Murray, John Millman and Marin Cilic in the tournament, but all that effort began to take its toll on the Spaniard as the fourth set developed. Tsitsipas route to the last eight has hardly been smooth, as he had required four sets in each of his four previous rounds, but the 20-year-old looked the fresher down the stretch. To his credit, Bautista-Agut hung tough to force a tie break, saving a match point with an inside-in forehand winner at 5-6, but he was second best in the breaker. Tsitsipas jumped out to a 3-0 lead, and despite giving up two mini breaks, he never lost his lead, winning the last four points to complete another famous win. 

“It all feels like a fairytale, almost,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m just living the dream, living what I’ve been working hard for".

Will the dream continue when he takes on Rafael Nadal in the last four on Thursday?

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Rafael Nadal is live from Melbourne on Thursday, 24 January.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas continues sensational Australian Open run: Greek young gun battles past Bautista-Agut to reach maiden major semi-final

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