"I played more flawless...I played with no care and that increased the level of tennis that I put out there," ATP's no 6 ranked Stefanos tsitsipas proclaimed. He had just had a 5-set win (3-6, 2-6, 7-6, 6-4, 7-5) in the quarterfinals over Rafael Nadal and was feeling tremendously grateful.
It might have been the best of times for the courageous, satisfied 22-year-old who holds 5 ATP titles in his young experienced career. The two have a 6-1 head-to-head record. But for the iconic Rafael Nadal, it was a day of re-evaluating his talents and skills to come up with a more stabilized and stronger game.
"I made a couple of mistakes -- was not enough for me, and I have to go back home and practice to be better," he said shaking his head in disbelief.
Tsitsipas played glumly and mentally slow the first two sets.
It looked uncertain if the young Greek would ever pull himself out of the slump.
The third set was the charm for him though and it told the tale for the fizzling Spaniard. Tsitsipas had started to pick himself up, dusted himself off and corrected those tired, careless errors that he distributed between his two lost sets.
Nadal's ability to keep up the dominance was faltering and the 22-year-old Greek was just beginning his resurgence. In the third set, a tiebreak Nadal speaks knowingly of the mistake he made which cost him the set: "I missed a couple of balls in the tiebreak that I shouldn't have if I wanted to win but I did," he said with his head down.
"He played better than me in the important moments." "Rod Laver is one of my favorite arenas. It's an amazing place to play tennis..." Tsitsipas was glad and satisfied that the outcome after 5 sets was favorable for him.
He had reminisced saying that "Moments like this haven't happened a lot in my career and the fact that I was able to come back the way I did, the way I fought against such a tough respected player like Rafa was something exra, something I've never felt before..."
The fourth and deciding sets told the truth on how th match would result. Tsitsipas was getting stronger and his winning strategies were coming together; whereas Nadal's tactics and energy were being stretched to come up with dictating and winning shots were unsuccessful.
The aura was there and the time for Tsitsipas to have victory had arrived. "It was epic. It was everything I ever dreamed of, and I'm glad that I am where I am today," the young Greek proclaimed with honesty. But the slam isn't over yet and Stefanos Tsitsipas has to maintain his positive status going into the semifinal with another tough competitor Daniil Medvedev.
Tsitsipas and the Russian have met 6 times with Medvedev winning 5 of their encounters. It's going to be tough and intriguing but whomever can make the important shots at vital times will be the winner no matter rank, status or fortitude.
It is from the experience Tsitsipas has just had with Rafa, most likely will leave him with high hopes to be the one who comes out the winner.