Tsitsipas dream continues as he storms into semi-final
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Tsitsipas dream continues as he storms into semi-final

Stefanos Tsitsipas has won through to the semi-finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has won through to the semi-finals.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

S Tsitsipas d. R Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2)

Australia may have tried to adopt Stefanos Tsitsipas, but the "proud Greek" will be playing for the blue and white on Thursday night in his first ever grand slam semi-final.

The 20-year-old has become the youngest player since Novak Djokovic 12 years ago to make a semi-final of a major, edging out an exhausted Roberto Bautista Agut to advance on Rod Laver Arena.

There were wild scenes inside Melbourne Park, with fans draped in Greek flags descending into deliriumthanks to the Greek's big win. 

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As revealed by The Age on Tuesday, Tennis Australia had conversations with Tsitsipas' family about a potential change of nationality.

But the man himself states that it never went further than those discussions.

"Not really that close," he smiled.

"I guess (it's disappointing) for them but for me I'm proud to be Greek and representing the blue and white colours."

Tsitsipas is now one step away from reaching the same stage that Cypriot and close friend Marcos Baghdatis reached in 2006, and Tsitsipas revealed the duo were supposed to play doubles together in this year's tournament.

"He texted me and said he was actually in Cyprus," he laughed.

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"I think it was a good idea. I want to actually thank him later that he left ... it definitely helped rather than staying and playing doubles ... a waste of energy."

Energy is exactly what Tsitsipas required in what became a war of attrition against Bautista Agut.

Things didn’t begin well for the Greek, who was broken in the opening game of the match by the much more experienced Bautista Agut, who is 10 years his senior.

The 20-year-old appeared to be lacking the same zest and effervescence that he displayed against Roger Federer, perhaps still feeling the effects of what was a gruelling four-set encounter.

But the 14th seed found his rhythm, breaking back after a successful challenge to make it 4-4.

A big inside-out forehand winner gave him two set points in the 12th game and despite throwing one away, he took the set 7-5 despite arguably being the inferior player.

In the second set, Bautista Agut was once again able to break Tsitsipas' serve early.

But he learned from his previous mistake, not allowing his younger opponent back into the set.

He very nearly had a double break to take the set with Tsitsipas serving at 3-5, but the Greek held serve and forced the Spaniard to serve out the set 6-4.

With the first four games of the third set racing by, a break and a consolidation saw Bautista Agut race to a 4-2 lead and suddenly things were looking bleak for Tsitsipas.

But it was at that point that Bautista Agut began to tire.

Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Stefanos Tsitsipas.Credit:AAP

It musn’t be forgotten that on top of the Spaniard playing his round one match against Andy Murray in a five-set epic, he also had to beat Australian John Millman and No.6 seed Marin Cilic in five-set encounters.

It began to show, with Bautista Agut’s serve falling away badly in the third set.

Tsitsipas immediately broke back and despite throwing away two set points, he made no mistake on the third attempt.

Bautista Agut - who was clearly trying to shorten the points to conserve energy - played a neat drop shot but Tsitsipas hunted it down, delivering a sumptuous back jab up the line to take the set.

The fourth set bucked the trend of the previous three, with no early breaks of serve.

In fact, there were almost no points against serve to speak of. There were just two in the opening seven games between both players.

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The set looked destined for a tie-breaker, apart from the Bautista Agut double fault at 30-30 to hand his opponent a match point.

The Spaniard saved the match point with a glorious forehand winner, but that will now only be remembered as a parting gift to the crowd.

He had run out of gas. The breaker was a mere formality, with Tsitsipas taking it seven points to two, collapsing to the ground in glee as he became aware of his achievement.

No Greek tennis player – man or woman – had ever reached a grand slam quarter- final, let alone a semi.

At just 20 years of age, Tsitsipas becomes the youngest player since Djokovic in the 2007 US Open to make a major semi-final and the youngest player to make one at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003.

Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.

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