into your inbox
Thousands have already subscribedy
Tsitsipas ends Lehecka fairytale and will be knocking on the Australian Open’s final door for the 4th time
Stefanos Tsitsipas proved very clutch again, against Jiri Lehecka, to clinch his spot in the semi-finals.
There are opportunities that cannot be missed when you’re a top player chasing your first Grand Slam title. And Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t miss it against Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday. The Greek put an end (6-4, 7-6(2), 6-4) to the Czech’s wild run in Melbourne and qualified for his fourth semi-final here, where he’ll face Karen Khachanov.
It didn’t go into the depth of his fourth round against Jannik Sinner, but still, one more time Tsitsipas proved to be the iron fist on the big points, saving the eight break points he faced against Lehecka. And clinching an already crucial one, on his fifth occasion, to lead 2-0 in the first set. By taking a strong hand on the match right from the beginning and not letting his focus go a single second after that, Tsitsipas spared himself from another trick that Lehecka may have had up his sleeve. Of course, Tsitsipas had a big advantage going into that match: he had played against Lehecka just last year and he had won, in the semi-finals of Rotterdam. He knew what was coming, and also had a mental edge over the Czech.
So Tsitsipas did what was expected of him out there: he won. We’ve already stated how important that tournament could be for him and how this 2023 season needs to be successful in order for “Stef” to avoid missing the “future of tennis” train. And actually, he’s kind of looking like a man on a mission in Melbourne, in the same way, he did when he reached the Roland-Garros final in 2021.
On Tuesday again, he was very impressive on his serve and on his attacking game. As he needed to against a Czech player whose tennis is so clean and solid that you have to be the bulldozer to his wall. Tsitsipas marched on that court like the boss he was always supposed to through that match. The eye of the tiger pushed to the max. With his game style anyway, his only way is forward: he will never be able to grind away a Grand Slam title or to play the cat and mouse game on the vital points: it’s not his game, and it’s not his spirit. So either he’s owning being bold from start to finish or he’s ready for new headaches and heartaches. Watching him play so flawlessly today reminded the tennis world of Tsitsipas brilliance and power, surely at a moment when some were starting to wonder where it had been.
Of course, some will say he “only” beat “Lehecka” and that it was a “Merry Christmas” kind of draw. They will be wrong to diminish that win because of one single reason: Tsitsipas had everything to lose in that match and, lately, when it happened, his nerves collapsed. Not this time. He had his head in the game from the first to the last point: he didn’t start to overthink and overplay. And he finally looked like someone enjoying being out there to battle it out.
Tsitsipas will now play in a Grand Slam semi-final for the sixth time in his career, and he will be the favourite again. Indeed, he leads Khachanov 5-0 in their previous matches. Sure, every streak has to come to an end but it’s much better to come into a Major semi-final being the rival’s dark horse! So here again Tsitsipas knocks at a Grand Slam title door: he’s two matches away, and he can nearly see the trophy. It’s crunch time it’s heroes time, it’s whatever it takes to get his hands on the metal. It’s the last stretch that will show whether he’s now ready to get back on track for tennis domination. Did you say pressure? As those who are used to winning big like to say: pressure is a privilege.
Melbourne (Grand Slam), other last 8 results (Melbourne Park, hard, USD 24.297.942, most recent results first):
- Andrey Rublev vs. Novak Djokovic
- Ben Shelton vs. Tommy Paul
- Karen Khachanov beat Sebastian Korda (29): 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0 ret.