Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas hits a backhand return to Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)
- Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas stunned #2 seed Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open men’s singles quarter-finals
- The outcome saw the average odds to win the tournament on Tsitsipas shortening from +800 to +438
- Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic remains the -125 chalk to win the event
The tennis world has been waiting for Stefanos Tsitsipas to make a breakthrough in a Grand Slam event. Could that time be right now at the Australian Open?
For the second time in three years, the Greek star is through to the semi-final in the men’s singles competition in Melbourne. This time, he got there by knocking off a legend.
The quarter-final victory by fifth-seeded Tsitsipas over #2 seed Rafael Nadal ended up causing his average betting line to shorten from +800 to +438 in the Australian Open odds.
2021 Australian Open Men’s Singles Odds
Odds as of Feb. 17th at DraftKings.
Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic remains the -125 chalk to win the event. Tsitsipas was +1500 in the tournament’s opening odds.
Rallying Past Rafa
In 2019, Tsitsipas ran up against second-seeded Nadal in the Australian Open semi-finals. The outcome wasn’t pretty. The Greek lost in straight sets 6-2, 6-4, 6-0.
History was looking like it was about to repeat itself as they clashed again in Wednesday’s quarter-finals. Tsitsipias, 22 and 12 years Nadal’s junior, committed 20 unforced errors while dropping the first two sets.
It’s your moment @steftsitsipas 🙌
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 17, 2021
This time, though, Tsitsipas overcame his admitted bout of nerves. Settling into a grueling physical battle against the veteran superstar, his youth served him well. Tsitsipas ground out a 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 7-5 verdict.
The Australian Open continues the Grand Slam thorn in Nadal’s side. He’s won the event just once, in 2009.
Medvedev a Challenging Foe
This will be the third year in a row that Tsitsipas is finding himself in a semi-final at a Grand Slam event. Thus far, he’s 0-for-2 in clearing that hurdle and getting into a final.
However, this will be the first time he’s at this stage and not looking across the net at one of the world’s top two players. He lost to Djokovic in five sets in the 2020 French Open semis.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) February 17, 2021
Unfortunately, fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev, his semi-final opposition, is 5-1 lifetime vs Tsitsipas.
However, scratch below the surface and perhaps it’s not as gloomy for Tsitsipas as it originally appears. He won his last match with Medvedev in straight sets. Three of Medvedev’s victories over Tsitsipas were three sets in length. A fourth, in the Round of 64 at the 2018 US Open, was a four-set affair.
Joker vs Wildcard
At the age of 27, Russia’s Aslan Karatsev fought his way into his first Australian Open through the qualifiers. It was his 10th attempt to qualify for a Grand Slam.
Karatsev will earn more purse money in this tourney than in his entire previous career. He’ll crack the top 100 in the ATP rankings for the first time. He’s the first player to reach the semi-finals during his initial Grand Slam appearance in the open era.
➡️Ranked #253 after the pandemic break
➡️Qualified in Doha
➡1st *ever* player to reach the SFs on his Grand Slam debut
➡️5th ever qualifier to reach a Slam SF.
➡️ Will rise to inside the top 50 next Monday.
One of the best stories in recent years pic.twitter.com/WzJ63tHCmp
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 16, 2021
In his last three matches, he’s knocked off a trio of seeded players – Grigor Dimitrov (#18), Felix Auger Aliassime (#20) and Diego Schwartzman (#8).
Djokovic, however, is to Rod Laver Arena what Nadal is to the clay courts of Roland Garros – a virtually unstoppable force. And he’s kryptonite to the hopes of unseeded players, no matter how well they’ve been playing before staring across the net at the Joker.
Is Djokovic Susceptible?
Roger Federer isn’t here. Nadal’s eliminated. If there ever looked like a sure thing for a Djokovic threepeat as Australian Open champion, this would appear to be it.
Still, it can be argued that there’s cause for concern in his game. Yes, Djokovic is winning. He’s extended his Australian Open to 19 straight matches.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 16, 2021
Djokovic is 62-3 in his last 65 matches in Melbourne. He’s the only player in the open era to win three straight Australian Open men’s singles titles (2011-13).
This year, though, he’s not won in straight sets since Round 1. Djokovic was forced to five sets once and has been required to play six tiebreakers.
He’ll get by Karatsev but will find either Tsitsipas or Medvedev a more challenging foe. Djokovic is 4-2 against Tsitsipas, with three straight victories. But he’s just 4-3 facing Medvedev, and 1-3 in their last four matches.
Pick: Daniil Medvedev (+225)
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.