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Australian Open: Tsitsipas edges out Sinner to reach the quarter-finals
Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Jannik Sinner (6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3) on Sunday and will face Czech Jiri Lehecka for a spot into the semi-finals.
Stefanos Tsitsipas needed that win against Jannik Sinner (6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3). And he fought very hard to get it. Entangled in a young generations battle, more and more contested as still being worthy of the “Next Big Thing” title, the number three seed had to beat Jannik Sinner (n°15) on Sunday. To reach the quarter-finals, to close the door on the NextGen, and to put a stop, temporary or not, to the tennis chatter saying Tsitsipas is on the verge of seeing lots of his tennis hopes getting shattered.
It’s one thing to be stuck behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, it’s another one to also be stuck with Alexander Zverev behind Daniil Medvedev and it’s a whole other one to now being stuck being Carlos Alcaraz with players like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner or Holger Rune coming in strong.
Tsitsipas in 2023 needs to close that door on the “BabyGen”, and quickly. So on Sunday in Melbourne, he kept fighting to do just that: push the door until it closes on Jannik Sinner’s face, for the fifth time in six battles. That’s the stat you’re aiming for against the younger wolves, and you need to hold and keep it there as long as possible. So they know what’s coming when they set a foot on the court against you. Nobody more than Tsitsipas on Tour right now needs to keep the fear factor alive.
It’s going to sound a bit insane but Tsitsipas was super clutch against Sinner despite needing five sets to get that win: he face 26 break points and saved…24! Yes, Sinner missed 22 break points through that match, you’ve read that right. And if tennis was not going wild enough, Tsitsipas will now face Jiri Lehecka for a spot in the semi-finals and we cannot really say it’s that good of a draw!
There was nothing between Tsitsipas and Sinner on Sunday and that shows how the Greek’s margin gets thinner and thinner. But he showed what the Italian still lacks a little: some good old cold nerves when needed. A “Go Big Or Go Home” mentality. It’s as much his mental strength as his heavy forehand that helped him out there.
Tsitsipas, who lost against Medvedev in the semi-finals here last year, was heartbroken by losing the final of Roland-Garros in 2021. Now is the time for him to recover. That Australian Open draw has basically “redemption” written all over for him. Medvedev is out, Nadal is out, Djokovic is injured, “FAA” is out, and Alcaraz isn’t there. If he was searching for signs…
Last year, he had also faced Sinner on the way but in the quarters and had won in straight sets, not in a nail-biting five sets match. Recovery will be more of a question this time even if he’s young and super fit because he looked to struggle against Sinner in the second half of the match. His fourth quarter-finals in six Australian Open editions will most likely be a battle between his brain and pressure: he’s the overwhelming favourite on paper, and everyone is going to say it’s a huge chance to cruise to a new Grand Slam semi-final. He will be the one with everything to lose, but actually, it might just be the start of his 2023 trend: because this year, Tsitsipas has so much on the line.
Tsitsipas reached the first Grand Slam semi-finals of his career here in Melbourne in 2019, with the Greek community throwing a party everywhere around the arena. It’s only been three years but it has to feel like an eternity for Tsitsipas who aims for so much more than counting his number of Grand Slam semi-finals or finals. On the way to 2023, he lost his tennis innocence, got his heart shattered, lost his mind here and there, and his way too. But now is the time to get back on a path that he’s way too good, for tennis and for the show, to lose in 2022.
Melbourne (Grand Slam), other last 16 results (Melbourne Park, hard, USD 24.297.942, most recent results first):
- Alex De Minaur vs. Novak Djokovic
- Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Tommy Paul
- Andrey Rublev vs. Holger Rune
- Ben Shelton vs. J.J. Wolf
- Jiri Lehecka beat Felix Auger-Aliassime (6): 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3)
- Karen Khachanov (18) beat Yoshihito Nishioka (31): 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (4)
- Sebastian Korda (29) beat Hubert Hurkacz (10): 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7)