'Can't believe it': Tennis world erupts over 'insane' Aus Open drama

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·Sports Editor
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Aryna Sabalenka and Stefanos Tsitsipas, pictured here in action at the Australian Open.
Aryna Sabalenka was dumped out as Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a five-set epic at the Australian Open. Image: Getty

The Australian Open witnessed its craziest night session so far on Monday as World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka was dumped out and World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a five-set epic.

Sabalenka was stunned by Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi in an epic fourth-round clash that ended the Belarusian's hopes of a maiden grand slam title.

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The second seed saved four match points before losing 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (10/7), sending down 15 double faults as the problem that has plagued her all tournament reared its head again.

The unseeded Kanepi, 36, made it to last eight in Melbourne for the first time, a stage she has reached at every other major over a grand slam career dating back to 2006.

The Estonian's reward is a clash with Polish seventh seed Iga Swiatek, who battled into her third grand slam quarter-final and first at the Australian Open by beating Romanian Sorana Cirstea 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

"It was a really tough match," said Kanepi, who defeated three-time major champion Angelique Kerber in the opening round.

"Actually I thought I was going to lose after the match points I had on my serve were saved. I don't know how I won.

"The Australian Open is the only grand slam where I hadn't made the quarter-finals and I didn't believe I could do it at my age."

Just as all seemed lost for Sabalenka she struck back as Kanepi was serving to go 5-3 ahead, digging deep to keep herself in the hunt.

Once more her double-fault problem reared its head and Kanepi broke straight back, only for more drama as the Estonian served for the match.

She was up 40-0 with three match points but they were all saved by a battling Sabalenka, who then saved a fourth before breaking.

It went to a see-sawing tiebreak with Kanepi finally triumphing to make her first quarter-final at Melbourne Park in 13 attempts.

Aryna Sabalenka, pictured here shaking hands with Kaia Kanepi after their Australian Open clash.
Aryna Sabalenka shakes hands with Kaia Kanepi after their Australian Open clash. (Photo by AARON FRANCIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas survives to reach quarter-finals

Tsitsipas then survived an incredible five-set battle against young American Taylor Fritz to advance to the quarter-finals.

The Greek star was staring at defeat trailing two sets to one before he fought back to beat the 20th seed Fritz 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and 23 minutes.

The World No.4 four has now reached the quarter-finals for the third time and will face Italy's 11th seed Jannik Sinner, who accounted for Australia's Alex De Minaur in straight sets.

Tsitsipas is a two-time semi-finalist in Melbourne but is yet to win a grand slam title.

"It was an epic match. I gave everything out on the court today, I am very proud of myself with the way I fought and the way I stayed consistent in the moments that were close and crucial," Tsitsipas said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, pictured here embracing Taylor Fritz after their epic clash at the Australian Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas embraces Taylor Fritz after their epic clash at the Australian Open. (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

"I am overwhelmed, it's too much, the stadium was on fire, it's too good to be true.

"I knew it was going to get physical and I kept reminding myself to get in there and do the work, don't give up, give it a little bit more patience and in the end it paid off."

Tsitsipas served 19 aces and broke Fritz's serve three times, the last time in the ninth game of the final set when he forced the American to net a close-range volley.

Tsitsipas became the first Greek player to reach a grand slam final when he lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's French Open final after leading by two sets.

He also holds the distinction of beating both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on his way to his two previous semi-final appearances at the Australian Open.

Tennis fans and commentators were left stunned by the crazy scenes at Melbourne Park on Monday night.

with agencies

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