'Roger Federer on Rod Laver Arena - it felt unreal,' Stefanos Tsitsipas recalls

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'Roger Federer on Rod Laver Arena - it felt unreal,' Stefanos Tsitsipas recalls

After a breakthrough run in 2018, Stefanos Tsitsipas kicked off the 2019 season in Sydney, losing in the quarter-final to Andreas Seppi and hoping for a much better run at the Australian Open. The youngster defeated Matteo Berrettini, Viktor Troicki and Nikoloz Basilashvili to reach the fourth round, facing Roger Federer in one of the most anticipated encounters of the entire tournament.

On Rod Laver Arena, Stefanos took down the 20-time Grand Slam champion 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6 in three hours and 45 minutes, dethroning Roger and delivering the most thrilling victory of his career. Tsitsipas would reach the semi-final, gathering momentum and cracking the top-10 after the title in Marseille and the final in Dubai a couple of weeks later.

Despite some early losses and setbacks in the rest of the season, the Greek had never left the top-10 again, winning the title in Estoril and producing more good results to find himself at the ATP Finals, where he was the youngest player.

Still, that was hardly an obstacle for Stefanos, who went all the way to claim the title and become the sixth-youngest champion of the premium ATP event. The young Greek fired 20 aces against Federer in that thrilling encounter, fending off all 12 break chances and delivering a single break of serve in the clash that could have hardly been more exciting.

Stefanos Tsitsipas bested Roger Federer in four tight sets at 2019 Australian Open.

Stefanos earned the victory in the shortest points up to four strokes, as nothing separated them in the more extended rallies. Despite his vast experience and numerous tight matches over the past two decades, Roger did not manage to continue where he left in the opener, falling in the decisive moments of the following three sets to propel the youngster through.

The Swiss sent a forehand long in the fourth set's tie break at 5-5, and the Greek sealed the deal after forcing the opponent's error in the following point for a massive celebration. "Melbourne 2019 was a dream come true for me.

Having a chance to face Roger Federer on Rod Laver Arena en route to my first Major semi-final felt unreal then. The memories will always bring a huge smile to my face. ATP Cup brings Greece new opportunities and possibilities; I can not wait to return to Australia and play in front of those fans again," Stefanos Tsitsipas said.