Sydney (dpa) – Stefanos Tsitsipas came from two sets down to shock erratic world number two Rafael Nadal and Karolina Muchova also rallied after a long medical time-out to upset women’s world number one Ash Barty in the Australian Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas fired 17 aces as he fought back for a 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 7-5 triumph in 4 hours 5 minutes shortly before midnight.
He now meets fourth seed Daniil Medvedev who extended his winning streak to 19 matches after topping a Russian duel against Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
The 25th-seeded Muchova took a long medical time-out early in the second set, saying later she felt dizzy. She was a different player from then on as she beat Barty 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
The Czech now faces American Jennifer Brady who pulled off her own comeback, defeating compatriot Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Fifth seed Tsitsipas raised his game after being overwhelmed in the first two sets by Nadal who was chasing a record 21st title at the majors and hadn’t dropped a set at the tournament until then.
The Greek took the third set in a tiebreak as Nadal started to make mistakes, levelled the sets after his first break of the match.
He broke Nadal at love after four unforced errors in a row from the Spaniard to go 6-5 up in the decider and then, after saving a break point, wrapped up matters on third match point with a backhand winner.
“I don’t know what happened after the third set. I was flying like a little bird and everything was working for me. The emotions at the end are indescribable,” Tsitsipas said.
“I am speechless. No words can describe what happened out on court, my tennis speaks for itself. It is an unbelievable feeling to be able to fight at such a level and leave my all out on the court.
While veteran Nadal went out in the quarters like last year after hitting 32 of his 42 unforced errors in sets 3-5, the 22-year-old Tsitsipas now faces another big test against the ATP Finals and ATP Cup winner Medvedev, with both in their third semi at the majors.
Medvedev took just over two hours to dispose of his ATP Cup team-mate Rublev in a match marked by some long rallies, including one lasting 43 shots in the second set.
“That was definitely one of the best matches I played lately, not only here but even last year. This match is really unbelievable because he was playing really good, I managed to beat him in three sets even without a tiebreak,” Medvedev said.
Home hope and 2019 French Open champion Barty looked set to cruise into her second straight semi at Melbourne Park after going 2-0 up in the second set against Muchova, having taken the first in just 24 minutes.
However, the momentum was flipped on its head after Muchova took a medical timeout after the third game. The break lasted almost 10 minutes and from then on Barty only won three more games as Muchova wrapped up matters with an ace.
“I started feeling a bit lost by the end of the first set. Ash started very good, she played almost like no mistakes, it was very tough. And I was a bit lost on the court, and my head was spinning so I took a break, and it helped me,” Muchova said in her post-match on-court interview.
“They just checked my [blood] pressure because I was … a bit lost, you know? I was spinning. So they cooled me down a bit with ice, and it helped me,” the Czech added.
Asked about what switched after the break, Muchova said that she “just tried to put a ball in and go for it. Played a bit faster, going to the net. I think that was the key by the end.”
Barty was diplomatic when repeatedly asked about the timeout in her post match press conference.
“I didn’t hear what she said when she called for the trainer. That’s not my decision. When you call for the trainer, you obviously tell the umpire what the reason is,” the Australian 24-year-old said.
“That’s within the rules. For me, that’s not really my decision and not my concern what she took the medical for.”
Muchova will next face Brady in an unexpected semi-final, with Muchova in the last four for the first time while Brady is in back-to-back semis following last year’s US Open.
“I think they’re separate entities. But it definitely helps, just helps overall confidence. Really just knowing that I belong at this level, I can compete in the second week of Grand Slams consistently, and hope to continue to do that consistently,” Brady said.
Also on Wednesday, Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed that a snap five-day coronavirus lockdown would end at midnight and that fans could return Thursday. Tournament organizers said that 7,477 fans would be allowed in for each session.
“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Australian Open for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.
Photo Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece reacts after defeating Rafael Nadal of Spain in their Men’s singles quarter finals match on Day 10 of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, 17 February 2021. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT