Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was sent crashing out of the Australian Open by Milos Raonic in the third round on Friday, with the giant Canadian’s power serve doing the damage.
The Greek star, widely tipped as a contender to challenge the big guns at the opening Grand Slam of the year, was no match for his experienced opponent, slumping 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2).
Expectations were high for the 21-year-old, who stunned Roger Federer in 2019 en route to the final four, before winning titles in Marseille and Estoril and at the season-ending ATP Finals in London.
But Raonic had his measure, pumping down almost unplayable 220 kph (136 mph) serves while smashing 19 aces and 55 winners.
“Today was an incredible match for me. I’m really happy with how things went,” said Raonic.
“I enjoy the energy here. To be healthy and playing well, I take a lot of pleasure out of that.”
His win set up a mouthwatering fourth-round clash against 2018 finalist Marin Cilic, who battled past ninth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in five gruelling sets.
Raonic has form at Melbourne Park, reaching the semi-final in 2016 when he lost to Andy Murray, and the quarters on three other occasions, including last year to make it his most successful Grand Slam.
But his career has been plagued by injuries, with surgeries over the years for hip, foot and wrist problems. He has also struggled with back, ankle, calf and knee issues which have stymied his progress.
But seeded 32, his lowest ever at a Slam, he turned back the clock against Tsitsipas, who had a bye in the second round when his German opponent Philipp Kohlschreiber pulled out injured.
Raonic is feared for his big serve and he sent down plenty of aces in the first set to set the tone, with the Greek desperately defending and unable to create chances.
It was more of the same in the second and third sets as the Canadian, looking for his first title since Brisbane 2016, turned the screws.
Also, Caroline Wozniacki’s glittering tennis career ended in tears at the Australian Open on Friday when she was dumped out by lower-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
The Danish former world number one, who announced in December that this would be her final tournament, lost 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the third round.
The unseeded 29-year-old brings the curtain down on a career that saw her win 30 WTA titles, with her sole Grand Slam triumph coming in 2018 at Melbourne Park.
“Only fitting that my last match was a three-setter, a grinder, and I finished my career with a forehand error. Those are the things I’ve been working on my whole career,” joked Wozniacki, as she choked back tears.
“Guess this is just how it was meant to be,” added the Dane, who began playing tennis aged seven.
Wozniacki, who made her professional debut in 2005, was given a rapturous reception by the Melbourne Arena crowd and was embraced by Jabeur.
“I’ve had unbelievable experiences on the court, amazing fans and support I’ve had my from family, especially my Dad, who has coached me all these years,” said Wozniacki, who suffers with rheumatoid arthritis, which causes fatigue and joint pain.
She has said that had nothing to do with her decision to leave tennis, wanting to start a family with husband and former National Basketball Association star David Lee.
The couple embraced on court and she was held aloft triumphantly by her father Piotr.
“I usually don’t cry. I have special memories that I will cherish, it’s been a great ride,” said Wozniacki, now ranked 36 in the world.
“But I am ready for the next chapter, ready for what’s to come.”
She finished 2010 and 2011 as world number one, and ascended to the top ranking again in 2018, the same year she finally won her maiden Grand Slam.
The 78th-ranked Tunisian Jabeur plays Wang Qiang of China or American great Serena Williams — Wozniacki’s close friend — in the fourth round.
“Caroline has been such an inspiration for me and many players,” said Jabeur.