Wonder shot helps Tsitsipas into second round in Melbourne

MELBOURNE: Stefanos Tsitsipas produced an extraordinary, balletic shot at a clutch moment in his opening match at the Australian Open on Monday to help him past lucky loser Zizou Bergs and into the second round.

The Greek seventh seed had lost the opening set to the world number 129 on Rod Laver Arena but had grabbed a break point at the start of the second when his Belgian opponent sent the ball just over the net.

Tsitsipas raced in and reached over into the other side of the court to slap the ball off the ground towards the umpire and win the point, all the while somehow managing to avoid touching the net to avoid being penalised.

The crowd gasped and Bergs put his hand over his mouth in astonishment as Tsitsipas took the break and a 2-0 lead on his way to a 5-7 6-1 6-1 6-3 victory.

"That shot was extraordinary, I don't even know how I got that shot," Tsitsipas said.

"I thought for a split second when he hit that underspin volley 'that's it, I'll have to prepare for the next point'.

"But I guess not wanting to give up and just giving it a try gave me the point that I believe turned around the match today."

Tsitsipas was supposed to play Matteo Berrettini in the first round but the Italian withdrew with a foot injury on Sunday and he instead faced Bergs.

"Things like this are dangerous when you are preparing many days in a row for a specific kind of player or opponent," added Tsitsipas, who lost to Novak Djokovic in last year's final.

"Zizou did a great job today to try and make it as difficult as he could for me, it wasn't an easy out here.

"But that determination and that fire sparkled in the second set. I was able to keep him moving, I really felt on top of my game after the first set.

"I'm glad that things turned around. I'm glad I showed that fighting spirit that I usually put out on court."

The late change of opponent was not the only factor that contributed to the Greek's poor start, he also tried out a new stance when serving.

While some pundits suggested the move from a legs-apart to a legs-together stance was to protect his injury-prone back, Tsitsipas said it was entirely tactical.

"A lot of players follow that serving technique so I've been trying out in the last few days," he said.

"It didn't work that well in the first set but I did find that rhythm, that balance in the second and third sets." - REUTERS

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