Stefanos Tsitsipas says he fought like a lion to come through a five set battle to reach the third round of the Australian Open.
Tsitsipas came from a set down to go 2-1 ahead in the match on Rod Laver Arena, but opponent Thanasi Kokkinakis forced a fourth set tie-breaker, making it go all the way.
The superior fitness of fifth seed Tsitispas eventually wore down the Australian currently ranked 267th in the world, in a match lasting over four and a half hours.
It was the first real test for the Greek star, who eased through the first round against experienced veteran Giles Simon in straight sets and after the game he said he was proud of his performance.
“[It was a] great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion,” said Tsitsipas who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2019.
“I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirit.
“He was serving pretty well [and] gave me a hard time,” said Tsitsipas.
“Even though the court was slow, I had difficulties returning… [There were] lots of missed opportunities, break points that I had. He just managed it really well.
“He’s capable of a lot of things. He played phenomenal tennis. I didn’t have the best start in the match. [It] took me a while to get used to the rhythm, the pace… My fighting spirit was there.
“When I had to play, I played. It’s something that he was also dealing with really well. He was able to concentrate and serve big serves on crucial, important moments, which was very frustrating, I won’t lie.
“I think he has a huge forehand, [a] very good serve. All the potential is there. I really hope he stays injury-free, because it can be very frustrating.
“I have dealt with it, and I know it’s very difficult mentally to go through things like this. I just wish him good health and that he can compete an entire year without any pain or anything bothering him.”
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