MELBOURNE – Stefanos Tsitsipas is already the highest ranked Greek man in history and the first to win an Australian Open match, and his odyssey continued Wednesday when he reached last 32.
But the 20-year-old 14th seed didn't have it all his own way against Serbian veteran Viktor Troicki in a hard-fought 6-3, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 win that set up a third-round clash with Georgian 19th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Troicki, 32, is ranked 185 places below the young tyro and the gulf was apparent early as Tsitsipas raced to the first set in just 31 minutes, backed by a rowdy contingent of Greek fans on Court 3 chanting football-type songs and flying a banner daubed "Stefanos the Great".
But Troicki, ranked 200, silenced them in the second stanza when he converted his third break point to lead 4-2 as Tsitsipas double-faulted.
The young Greek held five break-back points in the next game but when he failed to convert any of them he threw down his racquet in frustration, breaking it and earning a warning from Australian umpire John Blom.
Clearly rattled, Tsitsipas failed to win another game as Troicki levelled the match before the youngster disappeared for a bathroom break in an effort to compose himself.
The cooldown worked and Tsitsipas resumed control in the third, despite having to change is broken shoe at a crucial moment with the score 2-2, 30-40 on Trocki's serve.
But even that unintended interruption couldn't put off Tsitsipas - tipped as a future Slam winner by number one Novak Djokovic after a breakthrough 2018 season where he won his first ATP Tour title at Stockholm.
He won the next point with a rasping winner for a 3-2 lead and never looked back, closing out the match 3hr 40min.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)