Tsitsipas At Australian Open: ‘Never Doubt, Always Believe’

Stefanos Tsitsipas (photo: Australian Open video)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, January 25, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Stefanos Tsitsipas is one who always carefully chooses his words, whether during an on-court interview after he wins a big match, or when he sits down at his press conferences and eloquently answers questions from the international tennis media – even when he thoughtfully signs the on-court camera lens with a life lesson like he did after winning his fourth-round match against American Taylor Fritz.

On Monday night at the Australian Open, Tsitsipas navigated a five-set thriller against Fritz and won the fourth-round match on Rod Laver Arena, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in which he struck 19 aces, hit 53 winners and saved 13 of 15 break points to advance to the last eight.

Afterward, Tsitsipas, who reached his second straight Australian Open quarterfinal, described the experience of his hard-fought and well-deserved victory this way during his on-court interview:

“I gave everything out on the court today. I am very proud of myself with the way I fought and the way I stayed consistent in the crucial moments. I am overwhelmed.

“The stadium was on fire. It is too good to be true.”

As Tsitsipas readied to walk off Rod Laver Arena, he paused for a moment to sign the on-court camera lens: “For the game! Never doubt, always believe.”

Waxing poetically, Tsitsipas isn’t afraid to make a statement when he signs the camera lens after each major victory. It all adds up to the 23-year-old Greek rising star being a master philosopher as well as one of the world’s best tennis players.

Soon, it was well after midnight when Tsitsipas, clad in an adidas hoodie, walked in and sat down in the main interview room to discuss his latest victory and to share what was on his mind.

During his nearly-nine-minute press conference, Tsitsipas said: “I knew it was going to get physical and I kept reminding myself to get in there, do the work and not give up. Just a little more patience and at the end it paid off. It was good to have the crowd with me.”

In the opening week of the year’s first Grand Slam, Tsitsipas has pulled through three straight four-set matches, defeating Sebastian Baez of Argentina, Benoit Paire of France and Fritz. Only his first-round win over Mikael Ymer of Sweden was won in straight sets. The victory over Fritz improved Tsitsipas’ win-loss record for the young season to 5-1. His only setback came at the ATP Cup against World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.

With his victory over Fritz, Tsitsipas is 8-6 lifetime in five-set matches and he’s through to his fifth Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Next, Tsitsipas will face No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round. A victory would likely set up a semifinal match with No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, the highest-remaining seed in the men’s draw.

“I don’t like making any predictions,” Tsitsipas said after he was asked by a reporter about his chances of garnering his first major. “So, I would predict that I’m headed towards the right direction and things look good for me so far. And with the right mindset and with the right attitude and with the right development throughout the tournament, my chances are pretty good.”

Madison marches on: Keys first into the women’s semifinals

American Madison Keys gave an expressive performance in winning her quarterfinal match over No. 4 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-2, Tuesday afternoon on sweltering Rod Laver Arena, where the temperature reached 31 degrees Celsius (88 Fahrenheit).

Seven years after Keys last made the semifinals at Melbourne in 2017, she has earned a returned engagement with her fantastic play. Over the duration of the 85-minute match between the 51st-ranked Keys and World No. 4 Krejcikova, Keys dominated with both her serves and her returns.

Early on, the American’s power was overwhelming. Keys struck 11 aces, hit 27 winners to 21 unforced errors, won 77 percent (36 of 47) of her first-serve points and was broken just once. She also won 52 percent (34 of 66) of her returns. Meanwhile, Krejcikova was held to just 12 winners and committed 28 unforced errors. Her serve was broken four times. Keys outpointed Krejcikova 76-55.

“It’s means a lot [to win],” Keys said during her on-court interview. “Last year was really hard. I did everything I could with my team to reset during the off-season and focus on starting fresh and new, starting from zero and not really worrying about last year. Wow, it’s gone well so far!

Indeed, Keys has started 2021 by winning 11 of her first 12 matches and won a WTA 250 tuneup in Adelaide. She’s strung together 10 consecutive victories.

“I’m really proud of myself and so thankful to my team, my friends and my family for helping me through what was really a tough year last year,” Keys added.

With her latest triumph, Keys improved her career record at Melbourne Park to 25-8 and Tuesday’s victory lifted her into her fifth career Grand Slam semifinal. She is now a win away from her second career Grand Slam final and first since 2017 at the US Open.

On Thursday, Keys will face the winner of Tuesday night’s other semifinal between World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and No. 21 seed Jessica Pegula of the United States.

Alcott reaches eighth straight AO quad singles final

Day Eight was full of emotions

The race for WTA World No. 1

According to WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen, there are two scenarios in play regarding the WTA No. 1 ranking, involving current No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 4 Barbora Krejcikova.

Tuesday’s Australian Open results

Wednesday’s Australian Open order of play

Now it can be told

France’s Alizé Cornet credits cheesecake toward her making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

What they’re saying

Following his Monday victory over Marin Cilic, ninth-seed Felix Auger-Aliassime talked about his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who is the No. 14 seed. It seems they’re always pushing each other to excel.

What they’re writing

Dubai-based tennis journalist Reem Abulleil, writing for The National, caught up with 17-year-old Meshkatolzahra Safi. The Iranian has cracked the ITF junior girls’ Top 100 rankings and is competing at this week’s Australian Open junior girls’ tournament, the first from her country to do so.

By the numbers

• Top seed Ashleigh Barty, who faces Jessica Pegula of the United States in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round, is 11-7 versus Americans in Grand Slam competition. Her losses have come against six different Americans.

• When Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Marin Cilic on Monday to reach the men’s quarterfinals, it marked the first occasion that multiple Canadian men have reached the final eight at a Grand Slam. Denis Shapovalov advanced to the quarterfinals on Sunday with his win over No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev.

Barbora Krejcikova is through to the doubles quarterfinals with Katerina Siniakova as well competing in the singles quarterfinals. She’s bidding to become the first woman to sweep both Australian Open titles since Serena Williams achieved the feat in 2010.

“Quotable …”

“When I started my journey, everybody in Iran was saying ‘this is impossible, playing Grand Slams is impossible, you cannot do that’; especially to my mom. So, I didn’t say my dream to anyone anymore and I just kept pushing.”

Mashkatolzahra Safi of Iran, age 17, who at No. 74 in the world junior rankings is her country’s first Top 100 junior player.

“Semifinals of the US Open, semifinals of the ATP Cup and now quarterfinals of the Australian Open. It means we’re doing a pretty good job, I think.”

– No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, looking ahead to his quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday against No. 9 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.