A changing of the guard perhaps took place on Rod Laver Arena Sunday night as 14th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas upset two-time defending champion Roger Federer 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the Australian Open.
The 20-year old Greek saved all 12 break points he faced in becoming the first man from his country to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal and became the first player to defeat Federer in their first career meeting at a major.
Tsitsipas will face 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the final eight with the winner advancing to their first career Grand Slam semifinal.
Federer takes marathon first set tiebreak
If the opening game was any indication, in which Tsitsipas saved two break points, fans knew right away this match would be something special. The Greek was targeting the Federer forehand, showing off his vast array of skills, finished off his third service game with an exquisite volley.
The Swiss was cruising on his own serve, losing just three points over his first three service games, but was pushed to deuce after a brilliant backhand by Tsitsipas, but recovered to hold after some fine play of his own at the net to level the set at 4-4.
The 14th seed was continuing to put the pressure on Federer from all angles with the six-time champion withstanding the barrage so far as the set was headed to a tiebreak. The breaker swung back and forth with each man having chances to close out the set.
Finally, at 11-11, the Swiss legend approached the net to put away a forehand and on set point, a fan caused controversy by yelling "out", much to the dismay of the Greek, who proceeded to hit his next forehand wide, handing Federer the opening set.
Tsitsipas hits back to claim second set
It was the Greek who had the first chances of the second set, getting to 30-30 on Federer's serve in the third game, only to be pegged back by the Swiss. It was the six-time champion's turn to have a look with three break poins in the sixth game, Tsitsipas saving them all to level the set at 3-3.
Federer applied more pressure in the next service game, stretching Tsitsipas to six deuces, including a break point, which the Swiss fails to take advantage of by duffing a backhand, the 14th seed surviving again. He escaped once more, saving four break points in the tenth game with some great volleying and poor baseline play from the Swiss.
The two men held to send the set to a tiebreaker. Tsitsipas claimed the lead right away with an early mini-break and consecutive aces made it 3-0 in favor of the Greek. He eventually stretched the lead to 6-3 before crisply striking a forehand into the corner to level the match at one set all.
Tsitsipas claims first break late in the third set to take two sets to one lead
Both men were on the hunt for the lead early on in the third set, Federer sitting at 15-30 in the opening game before Tsitsipas negotiated his way through to hold and the Swiss navigating a tricky fourth game from deuce to even the score at 2-2.
Federer was moving Tsitsipas all around the court and his hard work paid off as he earned two break points, saved after the Swiss' forehand let him down to stay on top 4-3, the 20-year old roaring "let's go!" as he held.
The Greek led 6-5 and he clinched the third set on the back of three errors by Federer, the first break off the evening as the 14th seed was a set away from a massive upset.
Greek finishes off classic win to reach final eight
Tsitsipas continued his excellent standard, firing down three aces to open the fourth set with an emphatic hold and he soon was at 15-30 on the Federer serve, only to see the third seed play his way out of trouble.
After another half-chance went by the boards, Tsitsipas called for the trainer to work on his legs after closing out the seventh game with another ace to move ahead 4-3. Cramps would later be revealed as the issue for the Greek.
The 20-year old was now running on adrenaline as he fought off a challenge from the two-time defending champion at 30-30 to move within a game of a historic victory. For his part, Federer responded to hold both times he was a game from defeat.
The fourth set was decided in a tiebreaker and it was Tsitsipas off the mark first with an ace and a forehand sent long by the Swiss. Federer recovers to pull back the deficit and at 5-5, the Greek challenged a forehand that was called in. Ruled out, Tsitsipas fired a final forehand on match point to seal a memorable win.