DrThe victor abstained from any gesture of victory. But a loud cry in the nearly empty square showed that something special had happened. This came from Apostolos Tsitsipas, the father and coach of his son Stephanos, and this son had just accomplished the feat of defeating the great Rafael Nadal in five sets.
This would be a great story in its own right, as the Spaniard has won nearly two-thirds of his long-distance matches in his remarkable career. But Tsitsipas increased the difficulty level considerably, as he turned things around after defeating the group 2-0 and won 3: 6, 2: 6, 7: 6, 6: 4, 7: 5 in just over four hours.
It was a match in the half on that warm evening at Rod Laver, and at first it seemed like the Greeks had no chance. Just as it happened two years ago in the same venue, when he clearly lost in three sets to Nadal in the semi-finals. Part of this first phase was the question of how the men’s tennis stars always kept the boys in check; What happened the day before in Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev seems to be repeated here.
Tsitsipas takes his chance
And when Tsitsipas lost the second set after the first, the trend was clear. In 15 years, only two players managed to defeat Nadal after such a deficit, Roger Federer in the 2005 championship in Key Biscayne and Italian Fabio Fonnini ten years later at the US Open in New York. Tsitsipas kept his mind, however, gradually working his way up to the match, being forced to break a tie in the third set and scoring with great interest how Nadal hit two balls in the area. And the moment the competitor got the chance, he seized it. Ostensibly unmoved, he now carries a new confidence.
This began the second half of the match, with Tsitsipas playing more urgently from minute to minute, dominating many rallies from baseline and serving like a world champ. Nadal also served hard, and without that serving he had no chance anyway.
Tsitsipas said after the match: “I don’t know what happened after the third set, I flew like a little bird, everything went somehow.” He no longer felt any of the tension that slowed him down at first; He was completely with himself and finished working. He missed the first match point, Nadal saved the second point, and in the third he allowed himself to shoot his best shot, with a backhand kick on the line.
The best Greek tennis player ever reached the semifinals of the Grand Slam tournament for the third time in his career. As it happened in Melbourne in 2019 and last October at the French Open in Paris. On Friday, he will now play against Russian Daniel Medvedev, who presented himself as a sovereign with a clear victory over his compatriot Andrei Rublev at noon.
And Nadal? He buried his hopes of winning a second title in Australia ten years after winning the first title, as always in perspective and style. He commented, “He did well and played better than me in the important moments.” “And I’m not complaining. Another game I lost here in Australia after some great merits, I have to accept that and move on. This is life.”