Roger Federer was briefly refused entry to the player’s area here on Saturday, after a stickler of a security guard spotted that he wasn’t wearing his accreditation badge. Yesterday, the great man suffered further indignity, as he found himself summarily ejected from the tournament.
The culprit this time was Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas who produced a masterpiece of classical tennis to curtail Federer’s sequence of 17 straight victories at the Australian Open. “I am the happiest man on earth right now, I cannot describe it,” an emotional Tsitsipas told John McEnroe in his on-court interview, while clutching his shoulder-length mane in disbelief.
The result was a blow for Federer’s legions of international fans. But if we are thinking of the future, it’s no bad thing that the man to oust him should have been Tsitsipas, a graceful performer whose instinctive volleys and one-handed backhand can only be described as Federer-esque. These two players have never faced each other before in a competitive match but it still felt like the master being surpassed by the apprentice.
Even Federer acknowledged afterwards that he could see a little of himself in his conqueror. “I guess so. He has a one-handed backhand and I used to have long hair, too. He has a continental grip [and] that’s more my way, let’s say, than Rafa’s way.”