Greek Freak rewrites record books
THE Roger Federer win came dripping in hype under the prime time lights. This was a gruelling slog under a blazing summer sun.
But the bottom line is the same - the Australian Open's latest glamour juggernaut is rolling on.
Stefanos Tsitsipas on Tuesday needed 3hr 15min on Rod Laver Arena to overcome dogged Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-2) to thunder into the last four at Melbourne Park.
He is the youngest man to reach the semi-finals at a grand slam since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 US Open and the youngest to make the Australian Open semis since Andy Roddick in 2003.
Greece's YouTuber, podcaster and budding photographer collapsed on court after advancing.
The Greece national anthem broke out inside the stadium, his family cheered in stands and, outside, Garden Square erupted as hundreds of gathering Greek fans went wild.
"It feels like a fairytale," Tsitsipas said.
"I'm just living the dream, living what I've been working so hard for.
"I feel a bit emotional, but not too much because I worked hard to get here. I started the year and they asked me for my goals and I said: 'Semis of a Grand Slam'. I thought while I was answering that I was crazy. But it is real and it just happened."
Dubbed the "next big thing" by everyone from Athens to Melbourne after beating his idol Roger Federer, for periods it looked like Tsitsipas' run might be about to end as quickly as it started.
Bautista Agut got rolling on serve and his forehand cannon started to torment the blossoming 20-year-old.
Tsitsipas was hitting the winners and rifling the aces, but the veteran Spaniard was the dogged consistent force, with some of his combination play telling.
But this tournament has a history of producing giant-killing cult heroes and Tsitsipas was about to find something.
Bautista Agut was serving for a 5-3 lead in the third set and a two sets to one lead, but just when Tsitsipas was on the ropes, he sprang to life.
He broke back in the eighth game to level 4-4 and again in the 10th to take the set 6-4 on the third set point to wrestle back an ascendancy he wouldn't relinquish.
"I know if I keep fighting I'll get more chances. I said to myself 'keep pushing' and you'll get very close and it happened," Tsitsipas said.
"The biggest challenge (after the Federer triumph) … was to stay concentrated and focused. I'm happy I played well today because it shows it didn't happen accidentally."
The Australian Open's newest darling will face either Rafa Nadal or Frances Tiafoe in the final four.
They will have to beat Tsitsipas - and about 15,000 others