Stefanos Tsitsipas was delighted with his own on-court attitude when recovering from the “deep hole” of being two sets down to beat Rafael Nadal in five at the Australian Open.
Nadal relinquished a two-set lead for only the third time in his career as Tsitsipas prevailed 3-6 2-6 7-6 6-4 7-5 at Melbourne Park to reach the semi-finals
The Greek fifth seed now faces Daniil Medvedev for a place in Sunday’s final, and the 22-year-old pointed towards the all-important third set as the moment he believed he could turn the tide against Nadal.
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He told Eurosport: “It’s very tough to describe what happened out there. I felt like I was in a deep hole after the loss of the second set. Winning the third set gave me a lot of hope and anticipation of what was coming ahead.
“I was very glad I showed consistency and kept my calm. These components helped me get the win. It was very difficult, I was struggling and suffering a lot. I showed so much maturity, I’m proud I’m able to fight so hard and never give up. I do this not just for me but for my country. Every match out there is for the love of the sport.
[Nadal] is a player who never gives up, he will never give you anything, nothing will go accidental. That was the most difficult game of the match. When I sat on that bench at the break, I whispered to myself, ‘This is going to be the most difficult game on your life,’ and it proved to be so.
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Immediately on court afterwards, Tsitsipas cut an exhausted figure and admitted to reporter Jim Courier he quickly needed an ice bath to start his recovery ahead of Friday’s semi-final.
“I’m speechless,” he said. “I have no words to describe what just happened out on court. My tennis speaks for itself. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and just be able to give my all out on the court.
“Today’s performance.. I started nervous I won’t lie, I don’t know what happened after the third set. I fly like a little bird, everything was working for me. The emotions at the very end are indescribable, they’re just something else.”
Asked what he was most pleased about during the win, Tsitsipas said he was glad to have a control of his emotions.
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“It’s something I focused on a lot today,” he added. “Holding my nerves is important, having failed to do so in some of my matches. I would also give a big part of my win to being consistent with my mood and staying calm in the tight moments.
“My mood was consistent. I was just trying to keep everything to myself. It is something I’m really happy with, the attitude I showed out on court.”
And on the prospect of facing Medvedev, who leads their head-to-head 5-1, Tsitsipas said: “He’s an opponent that plays really well, had a lot of consecutive wins. He’s in very good shape, I won’t lie, everyone knows he’s playing well. I need to recover, take a good ice bath, I know he’ll give me a difficult time. Each single match I get to play here in Australia is a blessing."
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