Stefanos Tsitsipas staged a historic comeback against Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Australian Open on Wednesday. Down two sets to love, the Greek summoned arguably the finest tennis of his career to win 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5 in four hours and five minutes.
The Greek has now become just the third man in tennis history to defeat Rafael Nadal from two sets down. The only others before him were Roger Federer (Miami 2005) and Fabio Fognini (US Open 2005).
Stefanos Tsitsipas was understandably at a loss for words during his post-match interview, but claimed it was an 'unbelievable feeling' to perform the way he did and beat Rafael Nadal.
“I'm speechless,” Tsitsipas said. “I have no words to describe what just happened. It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and leave my all out on the court.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas admitted that he didn't start the match in the right frame of mind, which allowed Rafael Nadal to win the first two sets. But the Greek played some flawless tennis in the last three sets, executing all the elements of his game magnificently, and he described the state he was in as 'nirvana'.
'Today's performance, I started very nervous I won't lie," Tsitsipas said. "I don't know what happened after the third. I was flying like a little bird, everything was working for me. The emotions at the very end are indescribable. They're something else."
"Nothing special to think of, I was 'there' in the nirvana, playing, not thinking," he added. "I just played more flawless at some point. I played without any care and it increased my level of tennis."
A year or two ago, Stefanos Tsitsipas would have struggled to maintain his composure after conceding such a big lead to a player of Rafael Nadal’s caliber. But this time the 22-year-old was calm, taking the deficit in his stride before delivering the goods when it mattered the most.
"My mood was very consistent and I worked a lot to leverage this part, I'm happy with my attitude," Tsitsipas went on.
The Greek also acknowledged that the lack of crowd may have had a positive impact on his demeanor.
"It'll be weird if I had been stressed and pissed myself at two sets down," he said. "I walked down today and felt very relaxed, felt things would go my way. I was very serene. Couldn't explain it. Maybe the absence of the crowd? Don't know."
Rafael Nadal had handed Stefanos Tsitsipas a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 beatdown at the Australian Open two years ago, and many felt a similar scenario would unfold this time around as well. But it was the Greek who had the last laugh, and that too in a manner that will be remembered for years to come.
Win over Rafael Nadal brings back exquisite emotions and feelings: Stefanos Tsitsipas
In his post-match interview, Stefanos Tsitsipas compared his monumental comeback against Rafael Nadal to his famous win over Roger Federer at the same event and court (Rod Laver Arena) two years ago.
The Greek had ousted the-then defending champion Federer in four sets, in what many considered to be his finest Slam performance until Wednesday.
"It (win over Rafael Nadal) brings back very good emotions and feelings (Federer 2019)," Tsitsipas said. "I have a special connection with (the) court where I live moments that elevated me. Amazing place to play tennis."
Stefanos Tsitsipas believes he will have his task cut out against Daniil Medvedev on Thursday, but claimed that his five-set quarterfinal hadn't drained him too much.
"Overall I feel pretty well," the 22-year-old said. "I'm not feeling pretty exhausting. I learned to manage my energy in the match. Medvedev will be a very difficult task."