Melbourne: Two-time defending champion Roger Federer was sent packing from the Australian Open tennis tournament Sunday by upcoming Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas even as arch-rival Rafa Nadal sealed his quarterfinal berth with a dominating display against Tomas Berdych.
The Greek player played the crucial points better to win 6-7(11-13), 7-6(7-3), 7-5, 7-6(7-5) as Federer made a large number of unforced errors. Nadal on the other hand, provided a masterclass to beat Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6(7-4).
Federer, gunning for a seventh Australian Open title had 12 breakspoints that slipped through his grasp as his hopes of a 21st Grand Slam title were ended with Tsitsipas becoming the first Greek to ever reach the quarterfinals of a major tournament.
The 20-year-old Tsitsipas told Eurosport: “There’s nothing to describe it. I’m the happiest man on earth right now. It’s important when you enter the court to believe in yourself.”
On a day of stunning upsets, Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov also fell. Spanish journeyman Roberto Bautista Agut beat Cilic a 6-7(6-8) 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to book his maiden quarterfinal berth at the Australian Open. In another fourth round match, unseeded American Frances Tiafoe gifted himself the perfect 21st birthday present by stunning Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6(8-6), 6-7(1-7), 7-5.
Nadal, the 2009 champion was relentless at Rod Laver Arena, claiming the first two sets in an astonishing 51 minutes as the former World No.4 Czech suffered a dreadful start.
Berdych rallied to grab a set point off Nadal in the final stanza but an untimely malfunction of the serve clock rattled him during the ensuing tie-break and he bowed out slapping a backhand into the net. Nadal will now meet Tiafoe for a place in the semifinals.
“When you have younger players coming, they have always more attention to everyone,” the 32-year-old Nadal told reporters. “Of course, he’s dangerous. He’s in (the) quarterfinals. He won great matches during the whole event. Going to be a tough one.”