Rising Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas believes that his mental strength was the key in him beating defending Australian Open champion Roger Federer. The Greek captured a huge win on Sunday when he beat record the 20-time Grand Slam champion 6-7 (11) 7-6 (3) 7-5 7-6 (5) to reach the Australian Open quarter-final.
The 20-year-old hit 62 winners, 20 aces and most importantly saved all 12 of Federer's break point chances in three hours and 45 minutes of play. "I was just serving well. Even sometimes I didn't serve first serve, sometimes I would start the point with a second serve.
I think I was just very aggressive from the very beginning from his return. I managed to not make any mistakes, stay in the point, make him play. Most of the times he missed. Most of the times I saved those break points," Tsitsipas said post-match.
"It was actually very mental, I would say. I could have cracked at any moment, but I didn't because I really wanted it bad. I showed it on the court. Obviously and for sure that mental toughness helped a lot. It could have been a different match if I wouldn't stand that pressure."
No. 14 seed Tsitsipas beat his idol Federer to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final. The Greek now also leads the head-to-head record against his idol 1-0. "A flashback of, I don't know, just happiness, pure happiness.
It was a very emotional moment. It was something -- a beginning of something really big. I felt joy. I felt happiness. I felt a huge relief going out of my shoulders," Tsitsipas said, when asked what does this win mean to him.
"That moment is definitely something that I will never, ever, ever forget. This match point is going to stay, I'm pretty much sure, forever, for the rest of my life." Growing up, the Greek used to watch Federer's matches and highlights to help improve his game.
"Don't think of something extraordinary, like watching statistics, doing that kind of stuff. No, I didn't do that," Tsitsipas said, when asked what studies has he done while analyzing Federer's game.
"I was just watching matches, trying to understand the patterns and the way, the mental side as well, the way they think on the court. "These players, they are the best example if you want to make it big in the game.
In that way, I meant 'analyzing' Not too much. Not expert level. Just by watching matches, highlights. "I mean, they are great players to watch: him, Rafa, Novak. They are very good examples of how to improve your game.
I'm pretty sure it helped me." Tsitsipas plays next against Roberto Bautista Agut, who knocked out 2018 runner-up Marin Cilic. Tsitsipas insists he will stay on the ground after the win over Federer as he won't be taking Bautista Agut for granted.
"Same thing as Federer. These players obviously are different than any other player. You need something extra to beat those players. I did show that today," Tsitsipas said. "But if I manage to keep the same levels of concentration like I did today, same patience, same mental toughness, willing to fight, I'm pretty sure it's going to go pretty well.
"But I do have, again, as I said, to stay humble and concentrated on the goals I've set this year. This match is very important to me. I'm going to try to, yeah, fight hard again and give my best all out on the court."