Tsitsipas became the third player to defeat Nadal after falling in a 0-2 hole, joining Roger Federer and Fabio Fognini as the only players to achieve the feat as he claimed a 3-6 2-6 7-6 (4) 6-4 7-5 win to send Nadal crashing out of the open from Australia.
Coming into the match without losing a single set, Nadal looked anything but ready to move on to another semi-final before Tsitsipas staged a remarkable comeback in the final three sets, winning Nadal’s all-time record in the matches where he holds two. set the lead to 246-3.
The epic job of rescuing the Greek No.5 seed was so improbable that he himself was unable to describe how he had gotten out of a seemingly insurmountable deficit.
“I am speechless. I have no words to describe what just happened on the court, my tennis speaks for itself,” Tsitsipas told Jim Courier after the victory.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be able to fight at such a level and just to be able to just leave everything on the pitch.
“I started very nervous, I won’t lie. I don’t know what happened after the third set, I flew like a little bird and everything was working for me.
“The emotions at the very end are indescribable, they were something else.”
Tsitsipas’ temper was highly praised by Nine’s commentary team throughout the contest, especially when he received a practice violation at a crucial point in the fourth set with the score level three games apiece.
After his victory, Tsitsipas admitted that being able to stay tied throughout the competition allowed him to fend for himself and defeat Nadal.
“This is something that I focused on a lot today,” he said.
“Staying calm on the court and keeping my nerves up is a very important part and I have failed to do that in some of my matches.
“I would give a lot of my win today to that too, being able to be consistent with my mood and stay calm in the crucial and tight moments has helped me a lot.
“I tried to keep everything to myself and it’s also something that I’m really, really happy with the attitude I’ve shown on the pitch.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas’ incredible humility after his record-defying comeback
Following Tsitsipas’ unlikely win, Todd Woodbridge exclaimed that the 22-year-old had “come of age at Rod Laver Arena”, while fellow Australian tennis icon Lleyton Hewitt called the victory “incredible,” noting that the # 5 seed looked “down and out” at one point.
The next step for Tsitsipas is a tantalizing semi-final against his young compatriot Daniil Medvedev.
Tennis was waiting for the next generation to challenge the existing big three of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer.
Perhaps the 2021 Australian Open will be remembered as the tournament where the new neighborhood kids really arrived.
Australian Open: Rafael Nadal against Stefanos Tsitsipas