MELBOURNE, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas pulled off a sensational comeback against Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarterfinals on Wednesday night, recovering from two sets down to seal a 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 win after four hours of playing time.
Nadal snatched the first two sets to create what appeared an unassailable lead. However, the Greek star proved rattled but unbroken, raising his level to meet the Spaniard in the second half of the match.
“I have no words to describe what went on on the court. It’s an unbelievable feeling to play at such a level. I started very nervously, I don’t know what happened after the third set, I flew like a little bird,” Tsitsipas said afterwards.
“I focused on staying calm and holding my nerves. I would also give part of my victory by being calm with my mood. I have been working on trying to keep emotions to myself.”
Nadal took the first set with a break, sealed by an unforced error by Tsitsipas in the eighth game. A break in the first game of the second set from back-to-back winners further cemented Nadal’s dominance and another break in the fifth game earned Nadal a two-set lead.
It was during the third set that the close contest initially expected between the two top ten seeds began to play out.
“I am playing against one of the best players of the world, so you always have to expect the best from the opponent, and be ready for anything,” Nadal said after the contest.
“I think in the third [set]he already started to play much better. Then in the fourth and fifth I think he played a very, very high level of tennis.”
Both players convincingly held their serves in the third set, displaying a high standard that neither could overcome, forcing a tiebreak.
Several uncharacteristic errors from Nadal in the tiebreak were the first chink to show in his armor and were pounced on by Tsitsipas who claimed the set to edge back into the match.
In the fourth set the players were again inseparable, though Tsitsipas now had his sights on a realistic goal of recovery. At just over three hours match time, Tsitsipas finally found a break, allowing him to serve for the fourth set and a level scoreboard.
In the deciding set, Tsitsipas hit four straight aces to hold serve in the sixth game and backed up with a deadly forehand which he used to fire a total of nine winners in the fifth set.
At just under four hours, in the eleventh game of the final set. Tsitsipas again managed a late break and served through three match points to secure his place in the semifinals.
“The thing is that I wasn’t really thinking about a lot of things,” Tsitsipas explained. “Nothing was going through my head. I was just there playing. I was thinking a little bit but I was mainly focussed on each single serve, each single shot.”
The young Greek star now faces a semifinal tie against world number four Daniil Medvedev of Russia, who beat compatriot Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
“He plays really well, has a lot of consecutive wins. I need to review, and do an ice bath. I am really looking forward to playing this match,” Tsitsipas said. Enditem