11:28 PM GMT July 06, 2018
#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas arrived at the All England Club this year without a match win at Wimbledon. But with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Italian Thomas Fabbiano on Friday, the 19-year-old made history.
Tsitsipas is the first Greek man in the Open Era to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam, and just the fourth all-time from his country to do so. The teenager was already the first Greek man to advance to the third round of a major since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos at Wimbledon 49 years ago.
"It's an amazing feeling, and I feel very proud that I represent Greece and that all of my hard work has paid off," Tsitsipas said. "There is so much satisfaction. It's just such a nice feeling to be the first from your country to do so, so it's amazing."
It is the continuation of a history-making campaign for Tsitsipas, who was No. 192 in the ATP Rankings one year ago. The World No. 35 reached his maiden ATP World Tour final at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in April (l. to Nadal) when he was 18, becoming the first Greek to battle to a tour-level final since Kalogeropoulos at Des Moines in 1973.
Even after becoming the first Greek to crack the Top 100 last October thanks to a trip to the European Open semi-finals, Tsitsipas finished 2017 with just four tour-level wins. He has earned 22 in 2018 alone, and will now face ninth seed John Isner for a spot in the quarter-finals. Tsitsipas lost to Isner at last year's Rolex Shanghai Masters in their only FedEx ATP Head2Head series meeting.
"I just need to stay grounded," Tsitsipas said. "My goals are far away from what I have set for this year, and I just need to stay grounded and keep on doing the work I have been doing all this year."
The No. 31 seed was broken in the first game of the match by the qualifier. But he did not let that bother him, breaking eight times in the match and winning 56 per cent of return points.
It's safe to say that Tsitsipas will not break Isner — who defeated Moldovan Radu Albot 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 — eight times.
"He's a big kid, very athletic. I saw some highlights of him diving on the grass. He's got a lot of talent, a good serve, moves well for his size. Good backhand, good forehand," Isner said of Tsitsipas. "He doesn't have many weaknesses at all. I guess the only thing you could say is he doesn't have that much experience, but he's kind of showing right now that that's not much a factor."
The American, who has not been broken in the tournament, struck 21 aces to advance in just one hour, 35 minutes. He is into the Round of 16 at SW19 for the first time in 10 attempts. All four of Isner's FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Albot have come in 2018. But since the Moldovan got the better of his opponent at the New York Open, the World No. 10 has triumphed three times in a row.
Isner, who captured the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open earlier this year, will try to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final since the 2011 US Open. In the second round, he overcame Ruben Bemelmans in five sets, his first five-set win at the All England Club since his classic 70-68 fifth-set victory against Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
Did You Know?
Tsitsipas was one of two teenagers (also Alex de Minaur) to reach the third round. This is the first time that multiple teens have advanced that far at Wimbledon since 2006, when Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both reached the third round.