03:06 AM GMT January 18, 2019
Before the season, Stefanos Tsitsipas set a goal of reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final. Three weeks into the year, he's only two matches away from reaching that accomplishment.
Greece's #NextGenATP star matched his best Grand Slam performance on Friday at the Australian Open, beating two-time ATP Tour titlist Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4 to make the fourth round in Melbourne.
The 20-year-old Tsitsipas stuck with his aggressive tactics that took him to the Wimbledon fourth round and helped him celebrate his maiden tour-level title last year at the Intrum Stockholm Open. Tsitsipas charged forward 23 times, winning 70 per cent of his tries.
But the Greek also played with margin – hitting 36 winners to 24 unforced errors. The big-hitting Basilashvili struck more winners (56), but he more than doubled Tsitsipas' error tally (51).
Tsitsipas had a set point while serving at 5-4 but recovered in the tie-break when he lunged to his right for a defensive get, and Basilashvili sailed a lob long. Tsitsipas, the Next Gen ATP Finals champion, didn't face a break point in the fourth and broke the Georgian in the seventh game. He will face Roger Federer for a spot in the quarter-finals. Federer beat Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.
“I know the patterns that he's using a bit better now. He's serving really well, so I'm going to have to... take advantage of my returns as much as possible... Return games need to be aggressive and pressing a lot," Tsitsipas said. “He's a legend of our sport. It will be a great day facing him in one of the best arenas, Rod Laver [Arena]. I'm really excited for that match... If I thought about it now, it's insane I'm in this position where I can actually play him. It's really emotional."