Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts after winning the match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on January 20 2019, during the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: REUTERS/ADNAN ABIDI
Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts after winning the match against Switzerland's Roger Federer on January 20 2019, during the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: REUTERS/ADNAN ABIDI

Fiery Greek tyro Stefanos Tsitsipas said it is a “dream come true” after knocking defending champion Roger Federer out of the Australian Open in the fourth round on Sunday.

The NextGen Finals winner stunned the world No 3, who is 17 years his senior, 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7/3) 7-5 7-6 (7/5) in the Rod Laver Arena.

“That moment is definitely something that I will never, ever, ever forget,” said Tsitsipas.“This match point is going to stay, I’m pretty much sure, forever, for the rest of my life.“

Roger is a legend of our sport. I have so much respect for him. It’s a dream come true, my idol became my rival today.”

Tsitsipas, who is seeded 14, became the first Greek in history to reach a Slam quarterfinals.

“There’s nothing really I can say to describe this,” the 20-year-old added. “I’m the happiest man on earth right now.”

The pair’s only previous meeting in the mixed team Hopman Cup recently was also a tight affair.Federer prevailed that day but was at a loss to explain how he created 12 points to break the powerful Tsitsipas serve over four sets and converted none.

It definitely didn’t go the way I was hoping on the break points,” a despondent Federer said after his hopes of winning a record seventh Australian Open were shattered.

“I also didn’t break him at the Hopman Cup, so clearly something is wrong with how I return him, what I’m trying to do.

“He’s doing a good job to defend them.”Tsitsipas said he just tried to stay confident and keep to his game plan as Federer ramped up the pressure.

“I think I was just very aggressive from the very beginning from his return,” Tsitsipas said. “I managed to not make any mistakes, stay in the point, make him play.”The first set tiebreak was an epic tussle that ended unfortunately when a fan jumped the gun and shouted “out” on a Tsitsipas forehand causing the Greek to miss his next shot.

The second set also went to a tiebreak but Tsitsipas quickly took two points against Federer’s serve to level the match. At 4-5 in the third, Tsitsipas forced his first two break points which Federer saved.

He could not repeat the feat at 5-6 and a 42nd unforced error into the net saw the veteran behind for the first time in the championship.

“I felt like I have to win the second set,” said Federer. “I don’t care how I do it, but I have to do it. Cost me the game tonight.”

Tsitsipas called the trainer in the changeover after the seventh game of the fourth set as he began to cramp.Tsitsipas sealed the win on his first match point in the third tiebreak of the match.

“I lost to a better player who was playing very well tonight,” said Federer.

After exiting Melbourne Park without a quarterfinal for only the second time in the past 18 years, the Swiss shrugged off a suggestion from John McEnroe that the Rod Laver Arena crowd had just witnessed a “changing of the guard”.

“Yeah, sure. He’s in front of the mic [microphone] a lot,” Federer told reporters.“He’s always going to say stuff. I love John. I’ve heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there.”

Federer will note ruefully, however, that he has now been upset in the fourth round at two Grand Slams in succession, having been tipped out of the US Open by unseeded Australian John Millman.

He said that he would play the French Open for the first time since 2015.

“I’m in a phase where I want to enjoy myself. I also had the feeling it was not necessary to have a long break. I’m going to play Roland Garros,” Federer said. AFP, Reuters