As a freewheeling shot maker accustomed to dictating play, Stefanos Tsitsipas found himself in foreign territory Friday night against Milos Raonic in the third round of the Australian Open.
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion had no answer to Raonic’s massive first serve and runaround forehands as he crashed to a straight-sets defeat after failing to earn a lone break point chance in the match.
The 21-year-old readily admitted that he had no answer to the serve of the Canadian, who has not faced a break point in two of his three matches this week and has not dropped serve during the tournament. He is winning close to 90 per cent of first-serve points.
‘Incredible’ Milos Suffocates Stefanos
“It’s one shot that you can get knocked down all the time, and you’re just there, getting punched in the face with one shot. You can’t do much,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s serving aces T, wide, on the line, so precise, so accurate, which obviously is a skill. I’m not saying it’s luck. It’s a skill. And the person deserves to win those points.
“It’s quite difficult to play him. He’s playing forehands from all over the court, and you don’t really know where you should stand exactly, because he’s just so fast and just turning around, hitting those forehands. Serve is great, one of the best in the game.
“I felt a bit stupid returning his serves. I felt like I was slow. My anticipation was not there.”
Despite the disappointment of his early exit, Tsitsipas said that he was much better equipped to deal with defeat than he was last year after his swashbuckling run to the semi-finals, which included a win over Roger Federer.
“That’s life. I have learned to deal with it. Last year I wasn’t able to deal with it. I was heartbroken after my semi-final loss. This year is different. I’ll just keep going. We’ll win it next year. That’s fine (smiling).”
Although he was defending 720 points from reaching the 2019 semi-finals, Tsitsipas will remain at No. 6 in the FedEx ATP Rankings unless Alexander Zverev wins the title.