For four hours, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner pushed each other all over Rod Laver Arena.
In the end, Tsitsipas went primal to pull out a thriller.
After squandering a two-set lead, Tsitsipas subdued Sinner 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3 to advance to the Australian Open quarterfinals for the fourth time in the last five years.
“The most important thing, I did fight,” Tsitsipas told the media in Melbourne. “When I came to the most important part of the match, I regrouped and did it the way I did it in the first two sets.”
It was Tsitsipas’ fifth win over Sinner in six meetings, including a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 AO quarterfinal sweep last January.
In this rematch, Sinner hit more winners (54 to 28) and earned 15 more break points.
This was another major near-miss for Sinner, who engaged Carlos Alcaraz in one of the most electrifying matches of 2022 before falling in a US Open thriller that ended at 2:50 a.m. On this night, Sinner had all the momentum entering the final set, but was left to cope with the pain of a five-set defeat that dropped him to 0-7 vs. Top 5 opponents at Grand Slams.
“It’s tough right now, for sure. Yeah, it’s a tough loss for sure,” Sinner said. “I guess for sure I have to go back, practice again. But these kind of matches, it can go in one way and the other way. I had the momentum. I messed it up a little bit.”
A defiant Tsitsipas dug in to deny 22 of 26 break points. Tsitsipas did not face a break point in the final set.
Breaking Sinner for a 4-2 lead in the decider, Tsitsipas won 12 of the last 15 points played on his serve for his fourth quarterfinal in his last nine Grand Slam appearances.
It’s the kind of toughness Tsitsipas, who bowed to Nick Kyrgios in a controversial Wimbledon third round loss then fell in the US Open first round, needed to deliver as he hunts for his maiden major.
“I made a few technical adjustments on the fifth, gave myself an opportunity to play a bit more loose,” Tsitsipas said. “That really helped me serve better. I think I kept on moving. I kept on being active to be on these returns that I couldn’t get in the previous sets. That helped me with some Love-40 games in the fifth, two consecutive.
“I didn’t convert the first one on the first game. I had three. But I did give myself another chance later on to convert the last break point that I actually had. That was a great…