The "youngsters" came to play Sunday night in Melbourne. Frances Tiafoe came through Grigor Dimitrov and his own physical issues to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Stefanos Tsitsipas had the pleasure of opening up the Rod Laver Arena night session against his idol Roger Federer.
The Greek number one did not disappoint, going toe-to-toe with Federer in every aspect of the game. From a set down, the fighting spirit of the Greek did not ever leave, helping him produce tennis at the highest level in his 6-7(11), 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-6(5), victory over the two-time defending champion.
Drama-Filled Beginning And End
Not often you can say there's some high drama in the first game of the match. Tsitsipas was taking his time on serve which resulted in two, yes two, time violations which resulted in a loss of first serve. Meanwhile, Federer was upset with a replayed point which prompted him to say to James Keothavong, "I think you have a bad conscience about giving him two warnings."
Even through all that, Tsitsipas held serve and went toe-to-toe with the two-time defending champion on his forehand and was going strong in those rallies. Federer's first challenge on serve came in the eighth game following a stunning backhand winner from the 14th-seeded Greek to get it to deuce. The Swiss staved them off to keep it on serve as the first set led to a tiebreak.
Each player had chances for the set in a long tiebreak, but neither would surrender their serve when it mattered. Tsitipas was the first to cave, surrendering the first set breaker 13-11 to the Swiss, but you knew there would be plenty more to come from the Greek.
Show No Fear
Federer had the first break points of the match in the opening game of the match and finally got a look in on the Greek's serve in the sixth game of the second set. Three break chances were there for the taking, but Tsitsipas kept it on serve.
The next two service games were much like that sixth game for Tsitsipas who really had to hold off the Federer charge. Five combined break points in those two games were still not enough for the world number three to break Tsitsipas.
Another tiebreak ensued, and with Tsitsipas flying out to a 3-0 lead. Federer struck back with three straight points of his own, the last coming off of a backhand winner down the line. From then on, Tsitsipas controlled the breaker to level the match at one-set all.
It was a grueling battle with the first two sets going nearly two hours, and it was Federer once again with the opportunities to go up the break. The world number three made Tsitsipas earn that hold of serve, but those missed break chances would later haunt Federer.
It only took 38 total games, but the first break of serve finally came, and it went the way of Tsitsipas. Federer was serving to stay in the set, and a volley into the net and an overhit shot gave Tsitsipas the opening. The 14th seed took it without hesitation as Federer dumped another shot into the net to give Tsitsipas a two sets to one lead.
A Moment Like This
Tsitsipas called for the trainer after going 3-2 up in the set to get his leg worked on. Federer and the crowd were visibly upset that after his treatment, Tsitsipas was taking his time. A couple of games went to 30-30 but with only one break of serve throughout the whole match, this fourth set went to another inevitable tiebreak.
The Greek drew first blood in the breaker after Federer just missed a forehand long. He quickly got the mini-break back as the tiebreak continued to ebb and flow between the two. Tsitsipas got to a Federer drop shot which he just knocked long.
The chance for Tsitsipas came on the 11th point when Federer missed a forehand long which was called out by the line judge but also seemed to be called out by a fan. Federer challenged, and it was confirmed long to put the match in the Greek's hand. Tsitsipas did not blink putting away a forehand winner to close out the biggest win of his young career.