Stefanos Tsitsipas had no answers to the big-serving Milos Raonic on Friday, as Greek young gun crashed out of the Australian Open in the third round.
Tsitsipas sensationally reached the semi-finals in Melbourne last year, but there will be no repeat of that run in 2020 following his 7-5 6-4 7-6 defeat to Raonic on Friday night.
In the first meeting between the two players, Raonic put on a serving clinic, firing down 19 aces and winning 89% of points on his first serve. The former world No. 3 did not face a single break point throughout the contest, wrapping up victory after two and a half hours.
“Serve is great, one of the best in the game”, Tsitsipas said about his opponent’s serving prowess. “I felt a bit stupid returning his serves. I felt like I was slow. My anticipation was not there.”
Since reaching semi-finals of the Australian Open last January, Tsitsipas has underperformed at Grand Slam level. The world No. 6 made the fourth round at Roland Garros, and was unlucky to lose an epic five-setter against Stan Wawrinka, but he has won just one match in the last three majors. The 21-year-old crashed at the first hurdles at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, losing to Thomas Fabiano and Andrey Rublev, and he’s now fallen at the third round of the Australian Open.
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion snapped a three-match losing streak at Grand Slams with victory over Salvatore Caruso in his Melbourne opener on Monday, and received a walkover into the third round following the withdrawal of Philipp Kohlschreiber, but his tournament was terminated on Friday by the excellent Raonic.
It was a very satisfying victory for Raonic, who had struggled with injuries in the last couple of seasons, and seen his ranking fall outside the top-30. The 29-year-old hit 55 winners and 32 unforced errors against Tsitsipas, and converted 29 of 41 points in the forecourt.
“Today was an incredible match for me,” Raonic said. “I was very happy with how things went. I enjoy the energy of playing on this court and it’s great to be healthy and playing well. I can take a lot of pleasure in this win.”
He looked very healthy on Friday, as he powered into the fourth round of the Australian Open for the seventh time in 10 years. Raonic has reached the quarter finals in Melbourne in four of the last five years, with his best performance being a semi-final run in 2016.
He’s been in excellent form this week, moving past Italian lucky loser, Lorenzo Giustino, Chile’s Cristian Garin, and Tsitsipas in straight sets. He is yet to drop his serve all tournament, and has faced just three break points- all coming against Garin in the second round.
“I have always somehow figured out how to put it together here, especially if I have had the freedom to train well,” continued Raonic.
“I think when I have had the freedom to really focus on my body, not go from tournament to tournament, focus on training and doing my things well, and allowing myself to get confidence through that work, I have always managed to put things to a pretty presentable level I can be happy with. From there on you’ve got to go out on court, fight, and it worked out well.”
Raonic will attempt to reach another Australian Open quarter final when he faces former finalist, Marin Cilic on Sunday.