Assured Tsitsipas serves up a storm to reach fourth round

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Melbourne (AFP) – World number four Stefanos Tsitsipas did not drop a service game, despite losing a set, as he overcame Benoit Paire to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open on Saturday.

The Greek seemed on course for a straight-sets win, but decisively lost a tiebreak to the Frenchman before going on to see out victory 6-3, 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 in 2hr 42min on a steamy Rod Laver Arena.

Tsitsipas will face Taylor Fritz for a place in the quarter-finals after the American overcame Spanish 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-0, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Tsitsipas has now reached the last 16 for the third time in five trips to Melbourne.

“I’m pretty glad with the win. Benoit is one of the biggest talents in our game, he has a lot of feel for the game,” Tsitsipas said of his French opponent, who is ranked 56th in the world.

“It was a very important victory for me today and also very special to be playing on this arena and sharing that with the crowd.”

Tsitsipas served strongly with 21 aces and won 89 percent of his first serve points along with 47 winners and 26 unforced errors.

It was his fourth victory in five meetings with Paire, but his first over him at a major.

Tsitsipas, a two-time semi-finalist in Melbourne, became the first Greek player to reach a Grand Slam final when he lost to Novak Djokovic in last year’s French Open final after leading by two sets.

He also holds the distinction of beating both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on his way to his two previous semi-final appearances at the Australian Open.

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