12:24 PM GMT January 24, 2019
Stefanos Tsitsipas may have contested a life-changing Australian Open over the past 11 days, but the memories of his semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal will linger long in the memory.
“Honestly, I have no idea what I can take from that match,” admitted Tsitsipas, after his 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 loss to Nadal on Thursday night. “It's not that I was even close to get to something. I only got six games from that match. I feel very strange. I feel happy with my performance in this tournament, but at the same time I feel disappointed. I feel like I could do a bit better today. That's how I felt. But it's a very, very weird feeling. Almost felt like [I] just couldn't play better.”
The #NextGenATP Greek star had beaten six-time former champion Roger Federer in the fourth round, and insisted prior to facing Nadal that he’d learn a lot from his final losses to the Spaniard last year at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Rogers Cup in Toronto. However, Nadal, with a refined service motion, and growing confidence, surprised Tsitsipas with his aggression from the baseline and speed.
“It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely,” said Tsitsipas. “He gives you no rhythm. He plays just a different game style than the rest of the players. He has this talent that no other player has. I've never seen a player have this. He makes you play bad. I don't know, I would call that a talent.
“That's definitely not the way I wanted to leave from the tournament… The angles that he was using, my brain was used to a certain rhythm of the game with all the righty players that I played this week. It felt like I was always, when he was playing, on the wrong foot. I feel pretty fast when I'm on the court. I mean, I've improved a lot in that part of my game. Today, I felt like a two-metre-10 guy that can't move on the court. That's definitely not me.
“I felt kind of empty in my brain, which is strange, because I never feel like this when I'm in the match. I really wanted badly to wake up. I felt like my reaction time was very slow. I felt like everything was not that alert like it usually is. I felt a bit down. Just a click worse than I'm usually.
"I really don't know how to explain this. I guess from the match that I played before or the whole week that I played here, I'm trying to understand what was going wrong today. [But] this tournament kind of changed [my life] and gave another dimension to my career. I'm really happy that I got some good wins this week, against Roger.”
The 20-year-old, with a 6-2 match record this year, had been attempting to become the third player to beat both Federer (fourth round) and Nadal at the same major. To date, the only players to have defeated both superstars at the same Grand Slam are Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open and Djokovic at the 2011 US Open.