Stefanos Tsitsipas has booked his place in the Australian Open semi-finals, but admitted afterwards he had initially believed he wouldn't be able to compete at Melbourne Park this year.
The Greek world No.4 eased his way past Jannik Sinner in straight sets to earn a semi-final berth against the winner of Wednesday night's quarter final between Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
'RIDICULOUS POINT': Iga Swiatek brilliance leaves Aus Open in awe
Few would have guessed Tsitsipas was in any doubt to travel to Australia based on his performance so far at the Open, but in a revealing interview after the match, the 23-year-old said travelling Down Under was 'not part of the plan'.
Recovery from surgery on his elbow at the end of November last year was expected to sideline Tsitsipas until at least after the season-opening grand slam.
His recovery went much faster than anticipated however, and the absence of key rivals Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cleared the runway for the popular Tsitsipas to make a run.
Nonetheless, Tsitsipas cracked that his doctor had been nervously messaging him after each match.
“I’m pretty sure my doctor is watching right now,” he said.
“He has been sending me texts after every single game. We both didn’t expect for me to participate in the Australian Open.
"It was not part of our plan, he told me ‘I don’t see you playing in Australia’, but I proved him wrong.”
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 26, 2022
It was a dominant performance from Tsitsipas, who secured early breaks in all three sets to enjoy a relatively routine progression to the next round of the tournament.
The often mercurial Tsitsipas said he had done well to maintain focus throughout.
“I think my humility helped a lot today,” he said. “I knew I was going on the court facing a very good player so I stayed in tact. I tried to focus on my best shots and it paid off more than I thought.
“I’m very happy with the way I served today and the way I tried to come in and use my tactics.”
Nadal super satisfied with amazing career
Just two wins away from having the outright record for most men's grand slam titles, Rafael Nadal claims he is already at peace with his dazzling career.
Bidding for a record 21st grand slam men's singles crown, the Spanish legend will face Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini in the semi-finals for a place in the Australian Open decider.
Of all four grand slams, the first of the calendar year has been Nadal's least successful in terms of silverware.
But without Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park this year, Nadal now has a golden opportunity to become men's tennis's all-time majors title leader.
The three greats are locked on 20 slams each.
Djokovic was favourite to take the mantle by claiming his 10th Australian Open title, but the world No.1 was deported to Serbia before the tournament began following the drawn-out saga surrounding his visa.
At 35, Nadal is simply happy to still be contending in grand slams.
"I don't believe that my happiness, my future happiness is gonna depend on if achieve one more grand slam than the others or if the others achieve more grand slams than me," Nadal said.
"I am super satisfied and feel a very lucky person in general for all the things that happen to me in this life.
"You can't be always frustrated if the neighbour has a bigger house than you or a better phone or a better thing.
"I'm not going to be frustrated if Novak or Roger finishes the career with more grand slams than me."
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.