Stefanos Tsitsipas loves Australia, that much is clear. The Greek star has revealed he wants to buy a house here and even set up a school and on Tuesday night the 24-year-old stormed into his fourth Australian Open semi-final in five years after a straight-sets victory over Czech surprise packet, Jiri Lehecka.
Tsitsipas set up a showdown against Russia's Karen Khachanov in the last-four at Melbourne Park with a commanding 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory as he hones in on a maiden major title. The Greek ace says he considers the Australian Open his "home" slam and after his win on Tuesday night, the third seed set his sights on one of the country's most glamorous treasures, actor Margot Robbie.
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Speaking to tennis great Jim Courier after his quarter-final triumph, Tsitsipas spoke of his love for the country, before extending a cheeky invitation to meet Robbie in a hilarious on-court interview on Rod Laver Arena. “Australia is such a great country. I like a lot of Aussie things, you know. One of my favourite actresses comes from Australia, Margot Robbie," he said.
Courier replied: “Margot Robbie? Are you pitching right now? Are you making an offer, what are we seeing here?” The 24-year-old Greek confirmed that "it would be nice to see her over here one day.”
Not content to let Tsitsipas off that easily, Courier again probed the Greek star about his desire to meet the Hollywood star. “So you are officially extending an invitation to Margot Robbie? I just want to be crystal clear here.”
A confident Tsitsipas declared "absolutely" before turning his attention to the other reasons why he loves Australia so much. “I like a lot of things in Australia, you know. The people are very welcoming. I have said that so many times, I will keep saying it because it is very true," Tsitsipas added.
“I grew up in place that is very similar in terms of conditions and lifestyle and I find myself feeling home when I am here. It is not too tropical, not too humid and I very much feel like home.
“I know the French have the Roland Garros as their Grand Slam, the British have Wimbledon, the Americans have the US Open. For me the Australian Open is always going to be my home Grand Slam. I feel very much loved here.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas almost hits ball kid by accident
The Greek star came perilously close to being defaulted on Tuesday night after hitting a ball in anger and nearly connecting with a ball kid. Tsitsipas was called out for his 'dangerous' actions in the third set after losing a point and whacking a ball at the back wall.
He didn't realise a ball kid had started moving towards the ball, and it nearly connected with the youngster. In the end the ball didn't come too close to hitting the ball kid, but the match nearly ended in disaster for Tsitsipas.
All in all, it was a rare scare for the third seed in a dominant performance that suggests he might be the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic claiming a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas will first have to get past the dangerous Khachanov first, after the Russian breezed past Sebastian Korda, who retired hurt with a wrist injury while trailing 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 3-0.
Tsitsipas has fallen three times at the semi-final stage at Melbourne Park - including the previous two years - but insists he's a "different player" this time around. Asked if he believes this could finally be his year, the 24-year-old said: "I'm feeling great with my tennis. I don't think I felt so good in a long time.
"I will definitely say yes to it. I've said it, I'm a different player, playing different. My mentality is different. When I'm out on the court, I don't really think of negatives, to be honest. I just go out there and play the game."
Greek star revelling at 'home' slam
Tsitsipas, who will become World No.1 should he win the title, has thrived on the energy from the crowd in Melbourne. The city has a large Greek population, including some of his extended family, and he considers this his "home" tournament.
The Greek's best grand slam so far is a French Open final appearance in 2021, where he fell to Djokovic in five sets after winning the first two. Tsitsipas worked five break points on his opening service game against Lehecka on Tuesday night and got over the line when the Czech smacked a backhand volley wide.
He consolidated for a 3-0 lead and with his strong first serve offering Lehecka few opportunities to strike back, coasted to the first set in 36 minutes, sealing it with an ace. Tsitsipas saved five break points to hold in a crucial third game of the second set as Lehecka came alive and began applying pressure.
Both players dug in and it went with serve to a tiebreak, where the Greek kept his cool to take an early advantage that he never gave up. In a close third set, Tsitsipas second double fault of the night handed Lehecka three break points in game seven.
But he saved them all to hold, pumping the air in celebration. With the bit between his teeth, the Greek star dialled up the pressure as Lehecka served to stay in the contest and a crosscourt backhand earned him a match point which he converted.
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