An inspired Stefanos Tsitsipas roared back from two sets down to defeat Rafael Nadal and clinch his place in the semi-finals of the 2021 Australian Open.
It was a quite incredible resurgence from Tsitsipas as he produced a classic fightback to win, 3-6 2-6 7-6 6-4 7-5, and deny Nadal another last-four appearance at Melbourne Park.
Nadal came into the match holding a 6-1 head-to-head record over the Greek, but the 22-year-old staged a stunning comeback to reach the last four in Melbourne for the second time.
Nadal, whose back injury from the early rounds again appeared to be nothing but a distant memory, comprehensively outplayed his opponent for two underwhelming sets on Rod Laver Arena.
Tsitsipas had signalled his bullish intent from the opening point, attacking Nadal’s backhand side with an approach that Eurosport expert Frew McMillan said, “simply had to be aggressive”.
The challenge of facing the second seed and 2009 champion seemed to be too arduous for an uninspired Tsitsipas until he managed to suddenly rise to the challenge in spectacular fashion in the third set.
But with Nadal again demonstrating his more forceful approach in shortening the points too, the fifth seed ended up getting blown away at times in the early stages.
Tsitsipas was benefited by having a bye through to the quarter-finals after Matteo Berrettini was forced to withdraw through injury, and his fresh legs and mind appeared significant as he turned the tables on Nadal in the third set.
The fifth seed roared back to win the tie-break 7-4 and the momentum shifted violently into the fourth set as Tsitsipas carried his momentum through and secured the crucial break of serve to level up the match.
While the match appeared to be destined for a final set tie-break, the Greek suddenly broke Nadal’s serve in decisive fashion to lead 6-5 and he duly served out the match in style.
“I’m speechless. I have no words to describe what just happened out on court,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “My tennis speaks for itself. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level.
“Today’s performance, I started nervous, I don’t know what happened. I flew like a little bird, everything was working for me. The emotions at the end are indescribable.”
“Holding my nerves is important having failed to do so in some of my matches. I would give a big part of my win to being consistent with my mood and staying calm.
“I was just trying to keep everything to myself. It is something I’m really happy with, the attitude I showed out on court.”
Tsitsipas, described by McMillan as “phenomenal” during the match, will march into the semi-finals, where he will take on fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, who earlier in the day defeated fellow Russian Andrey Rublev in straight sets.