Stefanos Tsitsipas insists he has an “extra connection” with the Rod Laver Arena after clinching one of the best wins of his career over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open quarter-finals. Tsitsipas came from two sets down and won a fifth set tiebreak to book his spot in the final four.
The Greek is into the semis of the Melbourne Grand Slam for the second time in his career having been defeated by Nadal in straight sets in 2019.
That year, Tsitsipas beat 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer – the tournament’s defending champion – on centre court in the fourth round.
And his win over Nadal was his second against a top-10 opponent on the Rod Laver Arena as the world No 6 booked a semi-final showdown with fourth seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev.
In the other semi-final, world No 1 Novak Djokovic is the huge favourite to beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who has stunned the tennis world to get to this stage, on Thursday (8.30am UK time).
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The Serbian was the pre-tournament favourite to claim the title, which would be his ninth in Melbourne, but Tsitsipas will harbour hopes of downing him if he can get past Medvedev.
The 22-year-old has beaten Djokovic twice in six meetings and took the top seed to five sets in French Open semi-finals back in October.
And after downing Nadal, Tsitsipas insists he has a special feeling when playing on the main court at the Australian Open following his victory over the Spaniard, and his defeat of Swiss icon Federer on the very same surface two years ago.
Asked how he compares his win over Nadal to his triumph against Federer, Tsitsipas said: “It brings back really good emotions and feelings.
“Definitely, you know, I feel something extra, an extra connection with this court, with Rod Laver.
“I have had great moments, moments that just elevated me and moments that I will never forget. Rod Laver is one of my favourite arenas, courts. It’s an amazing place to play tennis.
“Every single year that I get to play in this court keeps getting better and better, and I’m glad that I get opportunity to play such beautiful courts with crowd that understands about tennis, and they bring in the atmosphere.”
And Tsitsipas admits he admires Djokovic’s formidable record at the first Slam of the year, which reads 75-8 – his best of all four majors – and has seen him win all of his last 19 matches at this event.
“Well, he’s an amazing fighter,” he said. “He had great victories in this court. I have watched many of his matches when I was younger, not yet in the tour.
“I remember an epic battle he had against Stan Wawrinka which was something to remember. I loved this match.
“He had great matches on Rod Laver, and he has been dominating. He has been winning here in Australia for many years.
“I much respect what he does, and his consistency in Aussie soil. He seems to be loving playing here. It’s his vibe.”