It may not be a changing of the guard but Stefanos Tsitsipas hopes his stunning win over Roger Federer can propel him to further glory at the Australian Open.
The Greek prodigy made history on Sunday night, defeating six-time champion Federer 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to advance to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.
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Aged 20 and playing in just his second Australian Open, Tsitsipas is the first Greek tennis player – man or woman – to reach the final eight at a major.
The 14th seed will face Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday and could meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
Retired great John McEnroe said the win could represent a changing of the guard following years of domination for Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – a suggestion quickly dismissed by 20-time grand slam champion Federer.
“He’s in front of the mic a lot. He’s always going to say stuff,” Federer said.
“I love John. I’ve heard that story the last 10 years – from that standpoint, nothing new there.”
The terse reply was the talk of social media after the match.
“He’s in front of the mic a lot, so he’s always going to say stuff.” -Roger Federer not putting too much weight on John McEnroe calling it a ‘changing of the guard.’ #AusOpen
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 20, 2019
— Optimum Sports (@optimum_sports) January 20, 2019
Roger Federer on John McEnroe telling crowd that they had witnessed a changing of the guard: “Yeah, sure. He's in front of the mic a lot. He's always going to say stuff. I love John. I've heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there.” #AusOpen
— Rutvick Mehta (@RutvickMehta) January 20, 2019
However Federer did concede that Tsitsipas has a bright future.
“About Stefanos, I think he’s definitely done a really nice job now the last year and a half,” he continued.
“I mean before that, too, obviously. But beating Novak in Toronto, the likes of (Kevin) Anderson and (Alexander) Zverev, now me here – that’s what you need to do to get to the next level.
“It’s really nice for him. I see him definitely being high up in the game for a long time. That was a good night for him tonight.”
Federer had four set points on Tsitsipas’s serve up 5-4 in the second but failed to convert any as his junior opponent showed nerves of steel.
Having stared down 12 break points to hold serve for the match against his childhood hero, Tsitsipas was confident of continuing his magical run.
“My idol today became pretty much my rival,” Tsitsipas said.
“This win is a good milestone, let’s say a good first step, to something bigger.
“I do feel like my game is pretty good at the moment. I feel confident. That’s very important.
“I’m really pumped and excited to be competing in the quarter-finals two days from now. I’m really waiting for that moment.”