Steely-eyed Stefanos Tsitsipas is feeling no pressure, only love, as he zeros in on “home grand slam” glory at the Australian Open.
The world No.4 and highest-ranked man left in the singles draw, Tsitsipas takes on unseeded Czech Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday for a place in the Melbourne Park semi-finals for a fourth time.
Once again thriving in an environment he compares to the Athenian Riviera where he grew up, the Greek superstar is unbeaten in eight matches since arriving in Australia at Christmas for the season-opening United Cup.
The third seed was forced to raise his game to survive a fierce five-set fourth-round battle with Italian young gun Jannik Sinner and believes the key to cracking his major title duck after a series of near misses is simply keeping his head down and eyes on the ball.
“I play my game. Titles come if I play good. That takes care of itself, I think. If you’re able to play the best you can produce on the court, I feel like the rest just follows naturally. It’s a natural flow of things,” Tsitsipas said.
“Putting pressure on yourself, we’re all dealing with pressure when we’re playing.
“For us, we are out there on a different race every single time, a race with different conditions, a race with a different player by our side. That’s, I think, something that most players are focused at.
“I wouldn’t say too many players think of future events too much because tennis is a sport in which you have to stay present, otherwise if your mind wanders around, creates sort of scenarios, situations, that’s not really how you can play I think and peak in your performance.”
Lehecka has never previously ventured beyond the first round at a slam.
But after taking out three seeds, including world No.7 Felix Auger-Aliassime in round four, the world No.71 shapes as a danger man for Tsitsipas.
Still, Tsitsipas is intent on staying in his lane and once again drawing energy from the Rod Laver Arena crowd that makes the 2021 French Open runner-up feel at home.
“Wherever I look. I see Greek faces,” he said.
“I see Greek people speaking Greek. Of course, it’s very important when you’re far away from home to have that sort of feeling, to connect even more with the culture that you’re at.
“It feels very welcoming when you’re able to walk around and feel that. It’s for sure my home slam, I would consider that, yes, because Melbourne is the second-biggest city after Athens with the biggest Greek population. I would consider it my home slam.
“The French people have Roland Garros, the Brits have Wimbledon, the Americans have US Open. For me it’s the Australian Open.”
The winner will play either Russian world No.20 Karen Khachanov or rising American Sebastian Korda on Friday for a spot in the Open title match.