It was a drama-free day at the Australian Open on Tuesday in the men’s draw.
The highest seed left, Stefanos Tsitsipas, had no issues with Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka with a 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-4 win.
The 21-year-old Lehecka had never won a Grand Slam match before (0-4) but found his form in Melbourne using his all-court game to defeat Cameron Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Tsitsipas, though, proved too tough and too experienced saving all eight of the break points he faced while attacking Lehecka’s second serve.
“It felt different this time from any other match, but the most important thing is that at the end I found a solution,” said Tsitsipas. “It was a very difficult three-setter, one of the most difficult ones that I had so far in the competition.
“I had to deal with the groundstrokes that were coming off the racquet from the other side of the court much heavier, much deeper,” he added. “So that was a task in which I had to really put my heart out there and give it my best.
“I know the tie-break became a very crucial tie-break, who was going to get back into the match. The way I saw it, that was my opportunity to really take a massive lead there, and I’m very happy with the way I closed the second set.”
The Greek is a perfect 6-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches and he’s 9-0 on the season. He’s into his 4th Australian Open semifinal.
Tsitsipas will take a 5-0 head-to-head in his Wednesday semifinal against Karen Khachanov. The big Russian reached his second straight Slam semifinal after Sebastian Korda retired with a right wrist injury.
Khachanov was ahead 7-6(5), 6-3, 3-0 when Korda called it quits. The 22-year-old Korda called for the trainer leading on serve at 3-2 in the second. He didn’t win a game thereafter.
Khachanov was the early man in charge getting out to a quick break lead but he couldn’t serve out the set. He grabbed the first. In the second, both guys were struggling to hold until the injury.
“For sure, back-to-back semi-finals in a Grand Slam feels great,” Khachanov told the crowd. “Obviously not the way you want to finish the match. I think until a certain point it was very competitive, a very good battle. Sebastian beat one of my friends, Daniil, in three sets and won in five sets against Hurkacz. He is playing great tennis.
“I’m feeling good, to be honest. I’m really happy about my level, about the way I compete, and looking forward to the semi-finals here in Australia for the first time.”
It’s his best Australian Open, and he’s now won 10 of his last 11 matches in Grand Slam play.
“This belief and self-confidence, I think, is much stronger after the US Open. I made it here to the semifinals, so I just hope to continue that way and to grow as a person and a sportsman.”
Korda said it was an injury that first flared up at Adelaide.
“I had it a little bit in Adelaide a couple weeks ago, but then it went away,” stated Korda. “During the matches, it was completely fine. Then just one kind of mishit return and it started to bother me a lot of after that.”
“Some forehands I couldn’t even hold the racquet. Volleying was almost impossible for me. So it was a little tough.”
Korda was in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, so not all was lost.
“Obviously a lot of positives,” he said. “Still a great tournament. My first quarterfinal in a Grand Slam. You know, I’m going to go forward with my head high and keep working.”
On Wednesday, Novak Djokovic returns to take on Andrey Rublev in an all-Top 10 showdown. In the afternoon, American upstarts Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul go toe-to-toe.
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