Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas recovered from two sets down to stun Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Wednesday, ending the Spaniard’s bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title.
Second seed Nadal was on course for a comfortable victory before the 22-year-old Tsitsipas turned the match around to prevail 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 7-5.
It was just the second time Nadal had lost when two sets up in a Grand Slam, having previously fallen to Fabio Fognini in the third round of the 2015 US Open, and the third time in his career after a 2005 match against Roger Federer.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas will now attempt to reach his first Grand Slam final when he plays the in-form Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final.
“I don’t know what happened after the third set – I fly like little bird, everything was working for me,” said Tsitsipas, who hit 49 winners and 17 aces. It was just his second win over Nadal in eight matches.
“The emotions at the end were indescribable, they were something else.”
The 22-year-old credited a composed temperament for his turnaround.
“I was able to be consistent with my mood and be calm in the crucial moments,” he said. “I’ve been trying to keep everything to myself and I’m happy with my attitude I showed on the court.”
Nadal, sweating profusely in the muggy conditions, was in vintage form until a nerveless Tsitsipas turned the match on its head after snatching the tiebreak in the third set.
The momentum shifted towards Tsitsipas in the fourth set and he finally cracked Nadal’s serve to force a deciding set.
Both players served well under pressure in a tense fifth set before Tsitsipas gained the pivotal break in the 11th game and then clinched his memorable victory with a backhand winner down the line.
That drama had appeared unlikely when an aggressive Nadal cruised through the opening two sets, toying with Tsitsipas and moving him around the court.
Tsitsipas, however, hung in there to force a third set tiebreak, where Nadal’s loose play ultimately proved fatal.
Another tough challenge awaits him in the semi-final as he has 1-5 record against the Russian Medvedev.
“He’s playing very well and is in good shape. I know he is going to give me a difficult time on the court. I need to recover and do a nice ice bath.”
Watch highlights of the match here:
With AFP Inputs