MELBOURNE — A changing of the guard?
That’s how John McEnroe, who was handling the on-court interview duties on Sunday night, classified Stefanos Tsitsipas’ 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory against Federer in the Australian Open.
“You’re watching the changing of the guard,” he said.
Just don’t tell that to Federer.
After the six-time Australian Open champion was denied a chance to win his 21st Grand Slam, Federer was asked during his post-match interview with the media if McEnroe was correct in seeing a transition happening in tennis.
Federer was willing to compliment Tsitsipas, but he definitely wasn’t interested in ceding his position in the game.
“He’s in front of the mic a lot,” Federer said of McEnroe. “He’s always going to say stuff. I love John. I’ve heard that story the last 10 years. From that standpoint, nothing new there.
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“About Stefanos, I think he’s definitely done a really nice job now the last year and a half. I mean before that, too, obviously. But beating Novak (Djokovic) in Toronto, the likes of (Kevin) Anderson and (Alexander) Zverev, now me here. That’s what you need to do to get to the next level. He’s doing that. It’s really nice for him.
“I see him definitely being high up in the game for a long time,” he added. “That was a good night for him tonight.”
Tsitsipas, who started the 2018 season ranked No. 91 and finished at No. 15, acknowledged this is a match he would never forget.
“My idol today became pretty much my rival,” he said. “ I still have to keep my focus, keep my concentration on further goals that I want to achieve. That’s a very good beginning. I need to stay humble.”