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Medvedev: 'I'm The Challenger. I'm Happy About It'

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Shortly after his 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Australian Open semi-finals, Daniil Medvedev turned his attention towards his final opponent at Melbourne Park: eight-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Medvedev showcased his best level inside Rod Laver Arena on Friday night, as he neutralised Tsitsipas’ game for the majority of their two-hour, nine-minute clash and struck 46 winners en route to victory. But despite his strong form, Medvedev believes that he will enter the championship match as the underdog, given his opponent’s 17-0 unbeaten record from the semi-final stage at this event.

“[Djokovic] is the favourite because… [in the] eight occasions that he was in the semi-finals, he won the tournament… I’m the challenger, the guy that challenges the guy who was eight times in the final and won eight times. I’m happy about it,” said Medvedev.

“I like to play against Novak. Since the first [match], when I was ranked No. 63 [in the FedEx ATP Rankings], we always had tough matches physically [and] mentally. He’s one of the greatest tennis players in the history of tennis, so playing a final against him is superb. I’m really happy about it… I have nothing to lose, to be honest.”

When Medvedev steps onto the court on Sunday, he will be attempting to level his ATP Head2Head series against the World No. 1 at 4-4. En route to the biggest title of his career to date, Medvedev won his most recent encounter with Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals.


When asked what the most difficult aspect of playing against Djokovic is, Medvedev pinpointed the top seed’s ability to cut errors out of his game and vary his attack. It is a quality Medvedev also sees in himself.

“When [Djokovic] is in the zone, he doesn’t miss,” said Medvedev. “He goes down the line, [he goes] cross court, [he hits the] forehand, [the] backhand, he doesn’t miss. That’s the toughest part of playing against him. I think that’s where I should be good also and that’s where my game is good… That’s why some matches that we played are really unbelievable matches. A few times I saw the highlights, and I was, like, ‘Wow, this level is unbelievable.’ That’s what I have to do to keep up with him on Sunday,”

Medvedev will enter his second Grand Slam final on the longest tour-level winning streak of his career. With his semi-final win against Tsitsipas, the Russian became the sixth active player to win 20 consecutive tour-level matches. The only other active players to have achieved the feat are Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro.

One of the most impressive aspects of Medvedev’s run has been the quality of opposition he has faced. Across his 20 wins, he has faced a Top 10 opponent on 12 occasions.

”When you beat everybody, [it] is just great, because I think people start maybe to be a little bit scared [of] you,” said Medvedev. “At the same time, sometimes there are going to be some [players] that are going to want to beat you even more. It’s a tricky situation, but I’m happy I managed to be on top in all [of] those 20 matches.”

Medvedev will enter his eighth ATP Head2Head encounter against Djokovic high on confidence. While he may feel that he played better in his quarter-final win over countryman Andrey Rublev than he did against Tsitsipas, the 25-year-old believes he may have hit one of the best shots of his career towards the end of his semi-final triumph.

On break point at 5-5 in the third set, Medvedev charged across the baseline and threaded a backhand passing shot up the line to break Tsitsipas and serve for a place in the championship match. Despite being well-known for his muted celebrations after big wins, the Moscow native let out a roar and waved his arms at the crowd.

“I wanted the [crowd] to recognize me, because the shot was unbelievable,” said Medvedev. “I think [it was] one of my best shots in my career. My legs were facing the other way of the court because I didn’t have time, so I have no idea how I made this [shot], and I was really happy about it.”

As he attempts to become the first Russian men’s singles champion at the Australian Open since Marat Safin in 2005, Medvedev believes the lessons he learned from his epic five-set US Open final loss to Rafael Nadal in 2019 may help him get across the line on Sunday.

If the final in Melbourne goes deep into a fifth set, as it did when Djokovic beat Dominic Thiem 6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 last year, Medvedev will not be heading into the unknown.

“I played one Grand Slam final already,” said Medvedev. “For sure, [I] was tight in many moments there. Sometimes it helped me; sometimes not. I know what it is like, and I know how it is going to be on Sunday. Experience is the key… Experience from the last Grand Slam final is going to be a big key to not get tight and to just play again.”

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Tsitsipas On Medvedev: ‘He Tricks You’

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas shared high praise for Daniil Medvedev on Friday, following his 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 semi-final loss to the Russian in the Australian Open semi-finals.

As he aimed to become the youngest Australian Open finalist since Novak Djokovic in 2008, Tsitsipas was unable to impose his attacking game on his rival. Following his loss to Medvedev, who struck 46 winners compared to only 21 unforced errors, the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion took a moment to reflect on the high level his rival produced throughout their seventh ATP Head2Head clash (Medvedev leads 6-1).

“[Medvedev] is a player who has unlocked pretty much everything in the game,” said Tsitsipas. “It’s like he’s reading the game really well. He has this amazing serve which I would describe close to John Isner’s serve. And then he has amazing baseline

which makes it extremely difficult.

“Even if you return the serve, you don’t guarantee that you’re going to win the point. You have to really work hard for it… He makes it very difficult, and I’m sure all the hard work that he has been putting [in] and the hours on the court have benefited [him] a lot. He tricks you. He plays the game really smart. It’s really interesting to see that.”

Daniil Medvedev is aiming to capture his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open.

Daniil Medvedev joined Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov as the third Russian man to reach multiple Grand Slam finals.

Tsitsipas was appearing in his third Grand Slam semi-final. Alongside visits to the final four in Melbourne (2019, ’21), the 22-year-old also reached last year’s Roland Garros semi-finals.

After falling short of the championship match for the third time in as many attempts at a major championship, Tsitsipas discussed the emotional pressure that comes with playing in the latter stages at Grand Slam events.

“I have learned a lot,” said Tsitsipas. “[I have] had a lot of learning experience from those three matches that I did… It’s a shame. You come so close, you work so hard, and everyone is dreaming of a Grand Slam victory… [The] closer you [get] towards the end, you’re overwhelmed with many different thoughts. Your aspirations and your dreams suddenly are close to becoming a reality. It might for him not be the same, but for me it means the world to be where I am. 

“Playing in a semi-final is a difficult thing. I just need to find a way to get there and just be in the same state of mind. I’ve proven that I have the level to beat these players. It’s not that I haven’t, but as Stan [Wawrinka’s tattoo] says, “Ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again… fail better.” So let’s hope for something better next time. I really hope it comes.”

Tsitsipas’ loss to Medvedev completes a memorable fourth Australian Open campaign for the World No. 6. Tsitsipas overcame home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis in five sets in the second round and, in the quarter-finals, he became only the second man to defeat Rafael Nadal from two sets down at a Grand Slam.

“I created some amazing memories during [this event]. I had a very nice stay in Australia… It was a hell of a trip here in Australia,” said Tsitsipas. “I’d like to thank everyone for putting on such an amazing event and show for the players. Not only for the players, but for all the agents, coaches, and crew that came to be part of this tournament and to represent the players.

“Australia has been welcoming me with their arms open, and I love it here. I feel like it’s home. I feel blessed when I’m playing here. I feel like everything can only be seen from the bright side, and [the] people are beautiful. It’s a really nice place to play tennis. I’ll miss it, for sure.”

With Medvedev through to his second Grand Slam final, tennis fans are guaranteed to see an unbeaten streak come to an end on Sunday. Medvedev enters the championship match on a 20-match winning run, which includes 12 victories against Top 10 players. On the other side of the net, Novak Djokovic will put his 8-0 record in Australian Open finals on the line.

Tsitsipas believes Medvedev has a chance to make history in the final, but he has been proven wrong by going against Djokovic in the past.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daniil win the tournament, but it’s a strange scenario,” said Tsitsipas. “I played Rafa here two years ago. I found his performance against me that day phenomenal. I was 100 per cent sure he was going to win the tournament. And I ended up being wrong. Who knows? I don’t know. Djokovic is playing well too.”

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Medvedev Marches Into Australian Open Final

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Daniil Medvedev extended his winning streak to 20 matches on Friday, as he advanced to the Australian Open final for the first time with a dominant 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 semi-final victory against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Aside from a late third-set comeback attempt from Tsitsipas, Medvedev neutralised his opponent’s attacking skills and contested the majority of the two-hour, nine-minute encounter on his terms inside Rod Laver Arena. The World No. 4 landed 46 winners, compared to just 21 unforced errors, and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points (49/56) en route to victory.

“It was definitely not easy, because we saw the match with Rafa was kind of the same score after two sets. [In] the third set, Rafa was dominating but didn’t manage to win the match, so I got a little bit scared and tight,” said Medvedev, in an on-court interview. “It is the semi-final of a Slam… It was not easy, but I am happy I managed to switch my game on, especially in some tight moments on my serve and I am really happy to be in the final.”

Across his 20-match winning streak, Medvedev has defeated 12 Top 10 players. The Russian’s most recent loss against a Top 10 opponent came at last year’s US Open, when he fell to eventual champion Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals. Alongside Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro, Medvedev is the sixth active player to record a 20-match tour-level winning streak.

”I don’t have an answer [to explain my run]. I was just working hard all my life and I am really happy at this moment,” said Medvedev. “It is going to stay with me… It is a great achievement.”

With his sixth win in seven ATP Head2Head clashes against Tsitsipas, Medvedev joins 2005 champion Marat Safin and 1999 titlist Yevgeny Kafelnikov as only the third Russian man to reach multiple Grand Slam finals.

Russian Men In Grand Slam Finals (All-Time)

Rank Player Grand Slam
1 Marat Safin 4
2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov 3
3 Daniil Medvedev 2

Medvedev has earned five straight-sets wins en route to the championship match. The 25-year-old, who battled past Filip Krajinovic in five sets in the third round, will meet eight-time champion Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

Medvedev found success throughout the match by focusing his attack on Tsitsipas’ backhand corner. The Russian proved the more consistent player in cross-court backhand rallies and he redirected the stroke up the line to increase his winner count.

“He was tired after the match with Rafa… During today’s match, I saw that as soon as I was moving him around the court, it was not easy for him,” said Medvedev. “As soon as I saw that in the first set, that became my strategy straight away.”

Tsitsipas attempted to break the pattern of extended backhand rallies by rushing the net, but Medvedev regularly landed passing shot winners to frustrate his opponent’s efforts. Medvedev was pushed to deuce just once in his opening 11 service games, but Tsitsipas defended well and eventually extracted errors from Medvedev’s racquet to reach 3-3 in the third set. Tsitsipas began to impose himself in rallies and he received vocal support from the crowd, which featured numerous Greek fans. 

Medvedev escaped danger on his serve at 4-5, 0/30, and struck pinpoint backhands to halt Tsitsipas’ momentum and earn break point in the following game. Despite being well-known for his muted celebrations after big wins, the Moscow native let out a roar and waved his arms in the air after threading an incredible backhand passing shot up the line to break serve. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist moved to the net and forced Tsitsipas into a backhand error to convert his first match point and reach his second Grand Slam final (0-1).

“[When I was scared], I just tried to hit aces and winners or put the ball in the court,” said Medvedev. “That is the only way to do it… I am happy I managed to keep my nerves because I didn’t make so many bad choices, except for the game where I got broken… I am happy that I managed to keep my calm.”

Daniil Medvedev strikes 46 winners to defeat Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets at the Australian Open on Friday.

Tsitsipas was aiming to reach his maiden Grand Slam final. The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion claimed two five-set victories en route to his third semi-final at a major championship, which included a comeback victory from two sets down against Nadal in the quarter-finals.

“I created some amazing memories during [this event]. I had a very nice stay in Australia… It was a hell of a trip here in Australia,” said Tsitsipas. “I’d like to thank everyone for putting on such an amazing event and show for the players. Not only for the players, but for all the agents, coaches, and crew that came to be part of this tournament and to represent the players.

“Australia has been welcoming me with their arms open, and I love it here. I feel like it’s home. I feel blessed when I’m playing here. I feel like everything can only be seen from the bright side, and [the] people are beautiful. It’s a really nice place to play tennis. I’ll miss it, for sure.”

Medvedev will attempt to become the first player to defeat Djokovic in an Australian Open final (8-0) on Sunday. The 25-year-old owns a 3-4 ATP Head2Head record against the World No. 1, which includes a 6-3, 6-3 victory in their most recent encounter at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals.

”I like that I don’t have a lot of pressure, because he never lost in the eight times that he was here in the final,” said Medvedev. “It is he who has all the pressure, getting to Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slam [leaderboard]. I just hope that I am going to get out there and show my best tennis. As we have seen, I can beat some big names if I play good so that is the main part. He has more experience, but he has more things to lose than me.”

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Ram/Salisbury Return To Australian Open Final

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury advanced to their second straight Australian Open final on Friday, as they ended Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares’ unbeaten start to 2021 with a 6-4, 7-6(2) win.

The defending champions converted two of their three break points and struck 22 winners en route to victory. Ram and Salisbury improved their team record at the Australian Open to 13-1 with their one-hour, 45-minute victory against Murray and Soares. The three-time tour-level team titlists’ only loss at this event came on their tournament team debut in 2019, when they fell in three sets to eventual champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the third round.

Murray and Soares were also attempting to reach their second Australian Open final as a team. The 2016 champions, who started the year with a title run at the Great Ocean Road Open, own an 8-1 record this season.

Ram and Salisbury will attempt to become the first team since Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in 2011 to win consecutive titles at the opening major championship of the year. The 2020 titlists will meet ninth seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek in the final. Dodig and Polasek snapped Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic’s unbeaten 12-0 team record on Thursday with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback win.

Ram and Salisbury are tied at 1-1 in their ATP Head2Head series against Dodig and Polasek. The two teams met twice at the end of the 2019 ATP Tour season and both matches required a Match Tie-break. Dodig and Polasek recorded a 6-3, 6-7(5), 10-7 victory at the Rolex Paris Masters, before Ram and Salisbury gained revenge with a 3-6, 6-3, 10-6 triumph at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Did You Know?
Ram is also through to the mixed doubles final at Melbourne Park. Alongside Czech Barbora Krejcikova, the American will face Aussie wild cards Matthew Ebden and Sam Stosur for the trophy on Saturday.

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6 Djokovic Stats To Know Before The Australian Open Final

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Novak Djokovic has said he has a “love affair” with the Australian Open, his most successful Grand Slam championship.

“I’ve been feeling more comfortable on the court each year that I’ve been coming back,” Djokovic said before this year’s event. “The more you win, obviously the more confidence you have and the more pleasant you feel on the court. It just feels right.”

The World No. 1 will try to claim his ninth Australian Open trophy on Sunday inside Rod Laver Arena. Before he does, looks at key Djokovic stats to watch.

Novak’s Quick Starts
Djokovic has been hot out of the gates in recent Grand Slam finals. In 11 of his past 13 major championship matches, the Serbian has taken the first set. However, losing the first set hasn’t been fatal for Djokovic Down Under. He has dropped the first set in three of his eight Australian Open finals and still lifted the trophy each time.

The Serbian’s Melbourne Record Is Better Than Federer & Sampras’ At SW19
Nobody has performed better at a single Grand Slam than Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, where the Spaniard is an astonishing 100-2. But Djokovic has carved an impressive legacy of his own at the Australian Open, where he is 81-8, giving him a winning percentage of 91 per cent.

Roger Federer and Pete Sampras are known for their success at Wimbledon, but Djokovic’s efforts Down Under have been better than theirs on the London grass. Sampras was 63-7 at SW19 (90%) and Federer is 101-13 at Wimbledon (88.6%).

 Player  Event  Record  Winning %
 Rafael Nadal  Roland Garros  100-2  98%
 Novak Djokovic  Australian Open  81-8  91%
 Pete Sampras  Wimbledon  63-7  90%
 Roger Federer  Wimbledon  101-13  88.6%

He Has Never Lost An Australian Open Final
Djokovic reached his first Grand Slam championship match at Melbourne Park in 2008, and he has never lost a final inside Rod Laver Arena. The Serbian is 8-0 in Australian Open finals, with only two of those clashes going to five sets.  Djokovic needed five hours and 53 minutes to outlast Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 in the 2012 final, which remains the longest match in tournament history. The 33-year-old has never lost once he has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open (17-0).

Novak Djokovic defeats Taylor Fritz in five sets to reach the Australian Open Round of 16 on Friday.
Photo Credit: Tennis Australia
Djokovic Is A Break Machine In Australian Open Finals
The eight-time champion has broken serve 45 times in his eight Australian Open finals, and never fewer than three times in a match. Djokovic has earned an average of more than one service break in each of his 31 sets with the trophy on the line at Melbourne Park.

In the Serbian’s past four Australian Open finals, he has broken serve at least five times per match, with a break-point conversion rate of 50 per cent. Djokovic has taken advantage of more than 41 per cent of his break opportunities in his eight championship matches Down Under.

 Year  Opponent  Break Pts Converted
 2008  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  4/12
 2011  Andy Murray  7/18
 2012  Rafael Nadal  7/20
 2013  Andy Murray  3/11
 2015  Andy Murray  9/16
 2016  Andy Murray  5/12
 2019  Rafael Nadal  5/8
 2020  Dominic Thiem  5/12

He Is Serving Up A Storm
Djokovic rarely tops an aces’ leaderboard, but he is serving up a storm at this Australian Open. In his second-round match against Frances Tiafoe, the Serbian uncorked a career-high 26 aces to oust the American. In the quarter-finals against Alexander Zverev, Djokovic struck 23. Entering the tournament, 23 aces was his personal-best, and he had only hit at least 20 in a match twice.

Djokovic has 100 aces through six matches to pace the men’s field Down Under.

 Round  Opponent  Score  Aces
 SF  A. Karatsev  6-3, 6-4, 6-2   17
 QF  A. Zverev  6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6)  23
 R16  M. Raonic  7-6(4), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4  10
 R3  T. Fritz  7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2  15
 R2  F. Tiafoe  6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-3  26
 R1  J. Chardy  6-3, 6-1, 6-2  9

The Serbian Is A Top 10 Killer In Melbourne
Djokovic has earned 22 of his 81 victories in Melbourne against Top 10 opponents. His winning percentage of 81.5 per cent against that elite group at the event is not far off from his career winning percentage against all players (83.1%). To put the Serbian’s success in perspective, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas have a combined 22 Australian Open wins.

Djokovic has dominated the rest of the Big Four in Melbourne, going a combined 10-1 against his legendary rivals. His only loss against them came against Roger Federer in the fourth round in 2007, when the Serbian was just 19 and the Swiss star was World No. 1.

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Like Snow In Athens, Tsitsipas Looks To Cool Medvedev’s Hot Streak

  • Posted: Feb 19, 2021

Halfway across the globe, snow was blanketing the Acropolis, as uncommon a sight as they come in the Greek capital; like a good stin igia mas (“to our health”) toast without the ouzo.

What had just occurred in Melbourne was equally as rare. For only the second time in 225 Grand Slam matches in which he had taken the first two sets, Rafael Nadal had suffered defeat, a stunning 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 upset at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Temperatures may have plummeted back in his native Athens, but Tsitsipas was white-hot Down Under. He had outhit the No. 2 seed and 20-time major champion from the baseline, his strokes as clean, as purposeful as they have been at any point in his five-year professional career. When the four-hour saga was over, Tsitsipas shared an intimate courtside moment with his camp, which included his father and coach, Apostolos Tsitsipas.

“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 and the way I fought against such a top, respected player like Rafa was something extra, something I have never felt before,” said the fifth seed. “It was a first-timer. And to be able to just walk up to my team and hug them and share that little moment of appreciation and solidarity, it was epic.”

“It was everything I ever dreamed of,” he added.

Tsitsipas, No. 6 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has been here before. He introduced himself to the tennis world at large at this same event in 2019, an uber-talented 20-year-old with uncommon poise; a YouTube diarist whose ambitions seemed to stretch far beyond the confines of a tennis court. He reached the semi-finals that year, too, upending then-third-ranked Roger Federer along the way. (He would sweep the Big Three of Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic before turning 21.)

But as big as his win over Federer was, even his triumph later that year at the Nitto ATP Finals, his comeback on Wednesday night against Nadal — the same player who had halted his run in the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2019 — somehow felt like more of a bona fide coming-of-age moment. On 17 February 2021, Stefanos Tsitsipas had arrived in earnest, taking full flight, as he would tell us, like a bird.

“I woke up today and I felt really relaxed and I just felt like things were going to go my way. I don’t know how to explain it. I was very serene during the match, regardless if it was the first set or the fifth one,” said Tsitsipas. “I’m very proud of the attitude that I showed… It’s a sign of maturity and a sign of strength, I think.”

Tsitsipas will need all the strength he can muster in the semi-finals against fourth seed Daniil Medvedev, who hasn’t lost a match (19-0) since October 2020. He’s just 1-5 against the streaking Russian, though he did claim their most recent encounter at the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals.

“Medvedev is going to be a difficult task,” said Tsitsipas, who, with his win over Nadal, is now 2-4 against Top 10 competition at the Slams. “He’s in very good shape, playing good tennis, playing accurate, playing simple. [I] might have said in the past that he plays boring, but I don’t really think he plays boring. He just plays extremely smart and outplays you. He’s somebody I really need to be careful with and just take my chances and press.”

Medvedev made quick work of his quarter-final opponent, needing just over two hours to dispatch countryman and ATP Cup teammate Andrey Rublev. Playing authoritative, thinking man’s tennis, the 25-year-old is into his third Grand Slam semi-final. The 2019 US Open runner-up is fast becoming a darling of the tennis cognoscenti, Hall of Famer-turned-broadcaster John McEnroe among them.

“He’s basically my favourite guy to watch now because he just plays old-school a little bit,” said McEnroe. “He’s strategising, he’s thinking ahead. These are the types of guys that we need and that we’re going to be seeing.”

Calling the all-Russian showdown from his ESPN bunker on the East Coast of the United States, McEnroe threw out an apt rock and roll analogy. If Rublev is a souped-up electric guitar in the vein of the late Eddie Van Halen, said McEnroe, then Medvedev is a classic Fender Strat; retro, refined, but capable of making some big noise, too.

“The more you win in a row, the more it’s better as a feeling,” said Medvedev. “I don’t have the exact word even to describe this. I’m happy about my level in all the matches that I won, that I’ve played. Some matches I could say I could do this better, that better. But for me, the momentum, the confidence is a big part. I think you can see that once I lose it, I start to make more unforced errors and that’s where my game can be a little weaker. I’m really happy that I managed to keep this momentum going so far, and it feels great. Hopefully, I can continue it for at least two matches.”

Can Tsitsipas curb that momentum? Stranger things have happened. Like snow in Athens.

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