‘Completely shattered’ star’s pity question
Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas' Australian Open press conference morphed into a therapy session as he tried to pick up the pieces from his devastating dismantling at the hands of Rafael Nadal on Thursday night.
Breaking Tsitispas in the match's third game and then another five times - while never facing a single break point himself until the very last game - Nadal bullied his way to a 6-2 6-4 6-0 victory that put him into his fifth final at Melbourne Park and 25th at all Grand Slam tournaments.
In an instant, Tsitsipas' Australian Open fairytale all went wrong.
The 20-year-old world No. 15 has emerged as the leader of the next generation of stars during his run to the final four in Melbourne, which included a breakthrough win over Roger Federer.
It was simply impossible for Tsitsipas to remember his incredible successes this week when speaking to the media after such a crushing defeat at the hands of Nadal.
He spoke with his head buried in his hands at times and spoke dejectedly.
He summed up the night perfectly by saying he could not think of one positive to take from the schooling Nadal dished out.
"The whole match felt weird from the very beginning, my body was stiff, he (Nadal) just has a talent to make you play bad, that's it," he said.
"I felt kind of empty in the brain. I felt my reaction time was slow, like everything was not that alert.
"I really don't know how to explain this, I guess from the match that I played before or the whole week that I played here.
"I'm just trying to understand what has gone wrong today. I cannot find an explanation for that."
"I have no idea what I can take from that match, it's not like I was even close to getting something," he added.
"I feel happy with my performance this tournament but at the same time I feel disappointed, I feel like I could do a bit better today.
"It's a very, very weird feeling, I almost felt like I couldn't play better. I really can't think of something positive from that match."
When asked about Nadal's ability to make him so uncomfortable on court he said: "It felt like a different dimension of tennis completely. He gives you no rhythm, he plays a different game style to the rest of the players, he has this talent … he makes you play badly. I don't know why."
“I’m just trying to understand how Federer beat him [Nadal] so many times... I don’t want to lose to him 10 times.” - A completely shattered and devastated Tsitsipas’ press conference turned into a therapy session by the end.— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) January 24, 2019
The media conference took a strange turn when a veteran reporter cut in to try and console Tsitsipas with the tale of how Roger Federer was famously bundled out of Wimbledon following his own "changing of the guard" win over American legend Pete Sampras at Wimbledon.
"I saw Roger Federer beating Pete Sampras in 2001," the reporter told a perplexed Tsitsipas.
"Everybody thought he was going to win the tournament or could possibly win the tournament. Then he lost to Tim Henman. He lost in the quarters. Then you know what Federer did afterwards. You shouldn't get depressed."
Tsitsipas is genuinely shattered.— Ben McKay (@benmackey) January 24, 2019
“I don’t know what I can take from that game ... I really can’t think of anything positive” #AusOpen
Tsitsipas' response showed he was still trying to come to terms with how far away he was from Nadal on Thursday night.
"I agree with you," he said.
"I agree with you. But I don't know, I'm just trying to think how Federer beat him so … Similar game style like me. I'm trying to understand. I mean, I don't want to lose to Rafa 10 times."
The reporter's interjection proved to be a strange end to the interview.
NADAL SERVING HIS OPPONENTS MISERY
A hyped up Nadal credited an improved serve with his rampage to the Australian Open final as he prepares to learn his opponent in Sunday's showpiece.
The world No.2 hasn't dropped a set en route to the final, to be played against either top seed Novak Djokovic or Frenchman Lucas Pouille. And much of that is down to the Spaniard's super serve.
The 2009 Australian Open champion hasn't been broken since his opening-round clash with wildcard Australian James Duckworth, five matches ago.
Fellow Australians Matt Ebden, Alex de Minaur, former Wimbledon finalist Thomas Berdych and next-gen hopefuls Frances Tiafoe and Stefanos Tsitsipas all failed to crack the claycourter.
The 32-year-old said it was pivotal to ramping up his attack on the young Greek. "I can do that damage little bit earlier than before because during this event I have been serving great," he said. "When you serve great, then the first ball normally is a little bit easier."
Nadal contrasted his play with that of his great rival Roger Federer, who has traditionally edged the Spaniard when it comes to serving.
"I can't play like Roger when I don't have the serve of Roger. You know, Roger (gets) a lot of free points, have lot of times that he starts with the serve, then he have a not-very-difficult forehand," he said.
"Was not my case during all my career because I never had that serve. I am not doing serve and volley. I am not hitting winners every ball. But I play all the shots with a goal.
"There is not better way to be aggressive than hit every shot with the goal to create damage on the opponent. That was my goal during all the career."
For Nadal, it's all part of staying at the top of the game as he attempts to win his 18th major - an astonishing 14 years since his first came at Roland Garros in 2005.
"I have to adapt my game to the new time and to my age, that's all. That's what I did during all my career," he said.
"That's the only reason why at this moment I am still here competing at high level.
"I know during that 15, 16 years, 17 years of tennis, professional tennis career, I'm going to lose things on my way, so Ineed to add new things."
- with AAP