Australian Open 2019: Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Roberto Bautista Agut to reach semi-finals


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Stefanos Tsitsipas

Australian Open 2019
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-27 January
Coverage: Daily live commentaries on the BBC Sport website, listen to Tennis Breakfast daily from 07:00 GMT on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and watch highlights on BBC TV and online.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in four sets to continue his superb run in Melbourne and reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

At 20 years and 168 days, Tsitsipas is the youngest man to reach the last four of a Grand Slam since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 US Open.

The Greek 14th seed won 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) in three hours and 15 minutes.

He will face Spanish 2009 champion Rafael Nadal or unseeded American Frances Tiafoe next.

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

“I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I really worked hard to get here.”

Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to go beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam when he knocked out six-time champion Roger Federer to reach the quarter-finals.

He is the youngest man to reach the last four in Melbourne since Andy Roddick in 2003.

No hangover for Tsitsipas

Any suggestion of a ‘Federer hangover’ was squashed by Tsitsipas, who demonstrated just why he is considered one of the hottest young prospects in tennis.

There were signs of tiredness and a lack of concentration in parts. He started off slowly, dropping serve in the opening game after sloppily smashing an overhead into the net.

But the Greek responded to break twice from 4-2 down, hitting 18 winners and picking up 90% of the points on his first serve in the first set.

His focus wavered again at the start of the second and a first double fault in the third game of the set contributed to a break of serve for Bautista Agut, who went on to level the match.

The 22nd seed again took the upper hand in the third – moving 4-2 up for the third set in a row – and Tsitsipas’ volleying continued to let him down on key points.

The 20-year-old was too casual and his concentration levels dipped before a second time violation when serving seemed to refocus him.

Tsitsipas needed three break points to level at 4-4 in the third and then broke again with a superb sliced backhand on Bautista Agut’s next service game to secure the set.

All the momentum was with the Greek, and though he was given a warning for coaching during the break between sets, Tsitsipas rose to the challenge.

Bautista Agut, 30, could only win three out of 13 points on Tsitsipas’ second serve in the fourth set and a double fault from the Spaniard brought up match point at 5-6.

He was not going to go down without a fight, though, and a brave forehand on the line saved it before Bautista Agut went on to hold serve and force a tie-break.

Tsitsipas immediately stamped his authority with two mini-breaks, although Bautista Agut did retrieve them to pull it back to 3-2.

However, the Greek won the final five points and when Bautista Agut netted a forehand, Tsitsipas fell to the ground in disbelief.

Tsitsipas wants to ‘continue this amazing journey’

Stefanos Tsitsipas falls to the ground after beating Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the Australian Open semi-finals

Tsitsipas said preparing for the quarter-final was the “biggest challenge” he faced after “people went crazy” following the victory over his idol Federer in the last 16.

“It was a great win and it got the people’s attention but I had to stay concentrated and focused,” he said. “I am happy that I played well today because it shows that it didn’t happen accidentally.

“It doesn’t feel real. My team asked me what my goals were this year and I said to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam. I thought I was crazy answering this. But it is real and it just happened.

“I had a fantastic start in the tie-break and I believe from my performance that I earned that tie-break. I am staying focused and aiming for more.

“I want to continue this amazing journey.”

End of a long road for Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut’s fighting spirit, which forced the match to a fourth-set tie-break, was typical of his attitude throughout the tournament.

The Spaniard overcame Britain’s Andy Murray in the first round before knocking out 10th seed Karen Khachanov and 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic on his way to the last eight.

Three of his four victories had come in five sets and though there were no obvious displays of tiredness, it was bound to catch up with him eventually.

Bautista Agut had already gone one better than his previous best at a Grand Slam by reaching the quarter-finals – he had made it through to the fourth round at the Australian Open three times before.

But after leading 4-2 in each of the first three sets against Tsitsipas, he will feel it was a missed opportunity to progress to a first Grand Slam semi-final.


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