Australian Open 2023: Tsitsipas cherishes 'great night' after holding off Sinner charge to reach QF
Stefanos Tsitsipas attained a thrilling 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Jannik Sinner in the fourth round of the Australian Open 2023 on Sunday.
Stefanos Tsitsipas attained a thrilling 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Jannik Sinner in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday, passing an actual test of his ability to win titles.
Greek player faced the most challenging test of his season after cruising through his first three matches in Melbourne without dropping a set. That test came from 21-year-old Sinner.
Tsitsipas appeared to be on track to repeat his straight-set victory over the Italian in the pair's quarterfinal match at the 2022 Australian Open for the first two sets. Still, his dreams of a similarly lopsided outcome were shattered by a startling shift in his opponent's level.
An increasingly assured Sinner controlled the baseline battles in the third and fourth sets, carrying the initiative into the match's decisive set at Rod Laver Arena. However, Tsitsipas kept his composure, focused on his serve and massive forehand, and secured a crucial break in the sixth game of the fifth set to secure an exciting four-hour victory.
"It was a long match, guys, I feel like I spent an entire century in this court playing tennis," said Tsitsipas to the crowd. "It felt so long. What a great night… I'm really excited to be sharing moments like this on the court, especially in Australia. I'm trying to do my best out here, it's not easy. I had an unbelievable opponent on the other side of the court today, playing incredible tennis in the third and fourth sets."
With the win, Tsitsipas now leads Sinner 5-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The Greek, who will become the first person to reach No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he wins the trophy in Melbourne, will play Jiri Lehecka next to reach his third consecutive Australian Open semifinal.
The Italian dropped serve in the first game as Tsitsipas came out attacking the ball with his customary intensity from both wings, which was a troubling early indication for Sinner. As the third seed delighted the vociferous Greek supporters in the audience with a clinical display across the first two sets, Sinner frequently found it difficult to match the Greek's consistency in the baseline exchanges.
Tsitsipas lost his focus after breaking Sinner's serve four times to take two sets to love to lead. Sinner was incredibly successful with his drop shot as he started to control the game from the baseline easily. The Italian created 18 break-point opportunities throughout the third and fourth sets, and although only converted two of them, he evened a match that had seemed like a foregone conclusion.
From that point on, though, Tsitsipas' superior experience as a three-time semifinalist at the Australian Open started to emerge. He took control of the match with a break in the sixth game of the decisive set, and the 24-year-old remained unfazed on serve to advance to his sixth Grand Slam quarterfinal, thanks in large part to a bombardment of powerful and precise serving.
"I think I just released my arm a little bit, released my wrist on the serve," said Tsitsipas who made 92 per cent (24/26) of first serves in the fifth set. "I think that helped me a lot to generate more power and accuracy, something that I wasn't doing before. It completely changed the way I approached the match, since that moment when I made that minor adjustment. That helped me serve it out pretty well towards the end without being too tense."