Roger Federer’s attempt to get his third consecutive title of the Australian Open came to an end on Sunday, when Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated him to become the first Greek to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, on a day in which Rafael Nadal also advanced.
In a match between the oldest and youngest remaining in the men’s squad, Tsitsipas, 20, beat Federer, 37, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5 and 7-6 under the lights of the Rod Laver Arena, unleashing delirium among Greek fans at Melbourne Park.
Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slam tournaments, will regret having wasted 12 break points against Tsitsipas during a fascinating match loaded with spectacular blows.
The Greek used his first point to force a mistake on Federer and generated the tears of his brother, present in the stands.
“I can’t describe it, I’m the happiest man on earth right now,” Tsitsipas said after the match. “Roger is a legend of our sport who has shown fantastic tennis over the years. He’s been my idol since I was six.
In the next round, Tsitsipas will play against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who for his part advanced by winning a tense five-set duel with the sixth seed Marin Cilic of the Australian Open.
The Spanish achieved a decisive break in the ninth game of the final set and claim a hard-fought victory by 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6 and 6-4 at Margaret Court Arena. Bautista Agut, who knocked down Andy Murray in the first round, threw his arms into the air and shouted triumphantly at the end of the match.
Meanwhile, Nadal defeated Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1 and 7-6 with an exhibition of his game on the center court.
The 2009 champion was relentless at Rod Laver Arena, winning the first two sets in just 51 minutes and hurting the Czech, former world number four.
Berdych recovered to win a game to Nadal in the second set and in the third forced the tie-break, but finally, the problems in his service were too much to make foot before the Spanish, the second pre-classified.
Nadal, who seeks his 18th Grand Slam title, and will be measured against the American sensation Frances Tiafoe.
Tiafoe, son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, celebrated his 21st birthday by winning Grigor Dimitrov at the Melbourne Arena.
The party will surely be considered as a duel between generations, but Nadal has already imposed his law on young promises. He destroyed Alex de Minaur, the 19-year-old local idol, in the previous round.
“When younger players arrive, they always have more attention for everyone,” the 32-year-old told the media.
“Of course, it’s dangerous. He’s in the quarterfinals. He won big games all through the championship. It’s going to be difficult.