With his back against the wall, Stefanos Tsitsipas stepped up and delivered Monday. The Greek clawed past American Taylor Fritz 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an Australian Open thriller to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne.
Trailing by two-sets-to-one, Tsitsipas’ Australian Open hopes were hanging by a thread. But the Greek was able to raise his level in the fourth and fifth sets, firings backhands and hammering forehands through the court on Rod Laver Arena to advance after three hours and 23 minutes.
“I gave everything out on the court today,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “I am very proud of myself with the way I fought and the way I stay consistent in the crucial moments. I am overwhelmed. The stadium was on fire. It is too good to be true.”
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The fourth seed, who hit 53 winners and broke Fritz three times, has reached the semi-finals in Melbourne twice (2019, 2021). However, the eight-time tour-level champion has yet to capture a Grand Slam trophy.
With his victory, Tsitsipas now leads Fritz 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series and has improved his five-set record to 8-6. It is also the fifth time the World No. 4 has advanced to the quarter-finals at a Slam.
“I knew it was going to get physical and I kept reminding myself to get in there, do the work and not give up,” Tsitsipas added. “Just a little more patience and at the end it paid off. It was good to have the crowd with me.”
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In a hard-fought match, Fritz looked to dominate the backhand exchanges against the Greek, targeting that wing to great effect as he hugged the baseline for large periods. The American broke in the seventh game of the first set, but could not use his momentum to ride further ahead, with Tsitsipas demonstrating good footwork to get his forehand into play more as he levelled.
Fritz managed to regain the initiative in the third set, patiently waiting for his opportunity before pouncing to lead 4-3 as he finally converted on his seventh break point of the set. The 24-year-old was unable to survive a fourth-set bombardment from Tsitsipas though, with the Greek winning 82 per cent (18/22) of his first-serve points in the set to level.
In a gripping fifth set, in which both continued to exchange blows from the baseline, Tsitsipas played the bigger points better. He showcased his grit and quality to advance after finding the decisive break in the ninth game.
Fritz was aiming to reach the quarter-finals at a major for the first time, having already recorded his best Grand Slam result in Melbourne with a run to the fourth round.