Stefanos Tsitsipas called out over illegal act on match point in Australian Open loss

The World No.7 resorted to an underhanded tactic when Taylor Fritz had the match on his racquet.

Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has been condemned over his actions on match point. Image: Channel 9/Getty

Stefanos Tsitsipas is copping a pasting from tennis fans after attempting to distract Taylor Fritz with an illegal move in their match at the Australian Open. Fritz advanced to a quarter-final clash with Novak Djokovic after taking down the World No.7 to the tune of 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-3 6-3.

Tsitsipas, who made the final at Melbourne Park in 2023, appeared to be a genuine title contender and a massive threat to Djokovic - who beat him in the decider 12 months ago. But he came unstuck in the fourth round on Sunday as Fritz advanced to his first career quarter-final at the Australian Open.

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Tsitsipas' actions on the final point of the match didn't go down particularly well with fans. The Greek player came into the net but played a poor half-volley that looped into the air and presented Fritz with an easy chance to put the match away.

Tsitsipas knew he was toast so decided to throw his arms into the air in an apparent attempt to distract Fritz - a move that is completely illegal. The Greek player probably knew that he would have been called for a hindrance if the underhanded tactic had worked, and was quick to congratulate Fritz immediately afterwards. But his actions still went down like a lead balloon on social media, with the World No.7 labelled "classless" and "poor loser".

Iga Swiatek was previously condemned for the same tactic

It sparked memories of a similar situation involving women's World No.1 Iga Swiatek, who resorted to the same tactic at the San Diego Open in 2022. Swiatek was playing Donna Vekic and was in almost the identical situation to Tsitsipas at the net, before she too threw up her arms as a distraction.

Fans also didn't take kindly to the three-time major winner's tactic, and were left even less impressed by the fact she went on to win the match. But the Polish star claimed afterwards that the reaction was "involuntary" and she didn't actually mean to do it.

Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas threw his arms up to try and distract Taylor Fritz. Image: Channel 9

"I can't control it, but I hope it will never happen again," she said. "We are working on it. It is a stress reaction to what is happening. It is an involuntary reaction. I did it during the US Open, and as I recall it was a stressful moment. In San Diego, I did it unconsciously.

"Right after the game I approached Donna and apologised. She had no hard feelings, it turned out she didn't recall this at all. I hope fans will understand me as well. I'm aware of the many negative comments on the internet concerning this incident. I'm not proud of the fact, that sometimes I'm not in control of what I do on the court."

The World No.1 did the same thing in a match against Lauren Davis at the US Open in 2022. John McEnroe said at the time: “I don’t know about that. I don’t think that’s legal…that is a little bit below the belt."

Taylor Fritz brimming with confidence before Novak Djokovic clash

As for Fritz, he's preparing to face Djokovic full of confidence despite losing all eight of his previous encounters with the 24-time grand slam champ. He pushed the 10-time Australian Open champion to five sets when they met in the third round at Melbourne Park in 2021.

"A lot of these match-ups were when I was a bit younger," he said. "Since then I'm improved and (have) become a better player. The times I've played him since I haven't really brought my best level, and you need to if you're going to compete with someone like Novak. I feel confident. If I'm able to play like I did (against Tsitispas) then I'm a chance."

with AAP

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