A post-millennial through and through, Stefanos Tsitsipas sounded as excited about doubling his YouTube channel’s followers to more than 30,000 within a few hours – “Oh, my God. Really?!” – as he was about becoming the youngest men’s grand slam semi-finalist since 2007.
Ah, to be 20, emerging as possibly the Next Big Thing in tennis and getting the opportunity to promote your travel vlogs.
“Guys,” he urged folks watching the Australian Open in person or on TV, “if you haven’t subscribed, please subscribe.”
Lest anyone get the idea that Tsitsipas’ stunning victory over Roger Federer at Melbourne Park was a fluke, he followed it up by beating No 22-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) to become the first player from Greece to reach the final four at a major tournament.
“I knew that win against Federer was important, played a huge role in my image – like, who I am,” said Tsitsipas, pictured, who eliminated the two-time defending champion in the fourth round on Sunday. “But I knew that the biggest challenge was today’s match, that I can prove myself once again.”
Cheered on by a loud, flag-waving contingent of Greek fans inside and outside Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas displayed his varied toolbox, producing 22 aces, 30 more winners than unforced errors (68-38) and a nose for getting to the net. It was a terrific encore to what he did against his idol, the 37-year-old Federer, a result that left Tsitsipas unable to sleep.
Tsitsipas was down a break in the first and third sets before turning both around against Bautista Agut, whose own thrill-ride to the quarter-finals included victories over Andy Murray and Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and the runner-up to Federer at Melbourne Park a year ago.
Next for Tsitsipas will be 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal, who stopped the run of another up-and-coming member of tennis’ new generation, 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe, by dominating him 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Nadal saved the only two break points he faced and broke Tiafoe the first time he served in each set. The second seed arrived in Melbourne having not played a match since September because of a series of injury problems but has barely put a foot wrong all fortnight and is the only man not to have dropped a set.
That statistic was not challenged by young American Tiafoe, who was swatted aside in only an hour and 47 minutes.
Nadal, who extended his winning streak over Americans to 21 straight matches and has now reached his 30th grand slam semi-final, said: “For me it’s very emotional to be back in the semi-finals in Melbourne. I had some troubles here in all my career, so to be back means everything to me. Of course I’m very happy with the way that I played tonight.”