Greeks make history in Melbourne

Greeks make history in Melbourne

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari were both victorious in their second round matches at the Australian Open, marking the first time ever that two Greek players made the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.

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14th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas played Serbian qualifier Viktor Troicki in what was their first-ever meeting. Troicki, though currently ranked 200 in the world, was once ranked as high as 12. An early break in the first set was enough for the Greek, as he would go on to take it by a score of 6-3. In a surprising turn of events, the Serb would take the second set 6-2. Motivated by a boisterous Greek crowd, Tsitsipas bounced back to take the third and fourth sets, 6-2 and 7-5.

With this win, Tsitsipas has now advanced to the third round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career, while also becoming the first Greek man to ever do so. Additionally, it is just his second time doing so at any Grand Slam, as he reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year. He will now face 19th-seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the third round. Basilashvili and Tsitsipas have never played against each other before, and the Georgian needed five sets to get past Italian qualifier Stefano Travaglia in the second round. The match will take place on Friday.

Immediately following Tsitsipas’ historic win, Greece’s Maria Sakkari took to the court against Australian qualifier Astra Sharma. The Greek was too good for the world number 232 in the first set, taking it 6-1 in impressive fashion. The second set would prove to be closer, but a crucial break for the Greek gave her a 5-4 lead. She then won her last service game to love to take it 6-1 6-4 and advance to the third round. Sakkari was superb on serve, winning 80% of her first service points, and getting broken just once throughout the match.

This is now Sakkari’s second time in the third round at the Australian Open, as she also reached this stage back in 2017. This is also her fifth time in the third round at a major, as in addition to her previous Australian Open run, she also made the third round at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2017 and at the French Open in 2018. She will now face Australia’s number one player, Ashleigh Barty. Barty, the 15th seed, is into the third round without dropping more than three games in a set. The two have played against each other twice before, each winning one time. The Greek won their last meeting 6-4 6-2 in the second round of Indian Wells back in March. This third round match will also be played on Friday, and will surely be on one of the main courts in Melbourne Park.

Sakkari is also competing in doubles here with France’s Pauline Parmentier. They will face the Chinese duo of Xinyu Jiang and Qiang Wang in the first round.

 

by Andrew Stamas

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