Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas extended his winning streak this year with another ruthless victory at the Australian Open on Friday — then played down his chances of a first Grand Slam crown.
The 24-year-old is yet to drop a set in Melbourne and clinched his seventh straight win of 2023 by beating Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
With defending champion Rafael Nadal and world number three Casper Ruud both out, Greece’s Tsitsipas is the highest seed left on the men’s side.
He set up a last-16 clash with the dangerous Jannik Sinner after the Italian 15th seed stormed back to crush Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.
It will be a rematch of their Melbourne Park quarter-final last year, which Tsitsipas won in straight sets, before exiting in the last four.
But Tsitsipas, who won all four games at the United Cup leading into the Grand Slam, is refusing to get carried away.
“I don’t make predictions. I’ve never been making predictions because the sport that I chose to play is unpredictable,” he said. “Of course there are favourites. Everyone knows that.
“But if my mind is not there, doesn’t matter who I’m playing.
“If I’m not able to generate good shots, hit big shots at important moments, be daring at important moments, doesn’t matter who’s on the other side of the net.
“There are no presents,” he added. “You should be going after it, you should be creating those opportunities and aiming big within yourself, sometimes surpass your own abilities.”
Like Tsitsipas, 63rd-ranked Griekspoor also came into the match unbeaten, on a six-match streak after collecting a maiden Tour-level title in Pune, India.
But he was no match for the surging Greek, a three-time semi-finalist at Melbourne Park.
The 24-year-old was in charge in the first set, breaking twice, dominating from the baseline and the net to sweep through in just 28 minutes.
But the Dutchman put up stiffer resistance in the second, earning a set point at 6-5 which Tsitsipas saved to take it to a tiebreak, where he kept his cool to prevail.
Griekspoor’s resolve melted and Tsitsipas broke for a 3-1 lead in the third set before racing home.
Sinner, a six-time champion on the ATP Tour, kept his hopes alive with a stirring comeback against Fucsovics, who lost all confidence as the match progressed.
Sinner said he would be better prepared this time for Tsitsipas.
“For sure I’m looking forward always for these kind of matches, knowing that he is one of the best players in the world,” said Sinner, who enjoyed straight-sets wins in his opening two matches.
“But I’ve changed a little bit for sure my game. It’s going to be hopefully a good match… This is what I practise for.”