Stefanos Tsitsipas holds off Karen Khachanov fightback to reach Australian Open final
Three times, the Greek had reached the last four at Melbourne Park and three times had been defeated.
There was a brief suggestion he might befall the same fate when he stuttered serving for the match, was broken and lost the subsequent tiebreak. But he raised his game once again in the fourth set for a deserved 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 victory.
Having previously been undone by Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev twice at this stage, the omens had looked good going into the match. Five times he had played Khachanov and five times been victorious.
Twice he broke the Russian in the opening set but was broken back on both occasions amid being given two time violations from the umpire.
In the next two sets, Khachanov, who had never before been past the third round at the Australian Open, was ground down in the longer rallies and looked destined for a straight-sets defeat.
But he rallied, saved two match points against him in the tiebreak with monstrous forehands deep into the court before winning the set.
It only briefly stemmed the flow of the match as Tsitsipas broke early in the fourth for a 3-0 advantage which he never looked like conceding.
Australian Open 2023 – In pictures
The 24-year-old has had a perfect start to 2023 with 10 wins from 10 matches. In the past, he has been occasionally let down by both his backhand and mental frailty. Amid the Khachanov comeback, both proved resolute.
Earlier, British duo Alfie Hewitt and Gordon Reid won a fourth straight Australian Open men’s wheelchair doubles title with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Dutch pairing Maikel Scheffers and Ruben Spaargaren.
But fellow Brit Ranah Stoiber missed out on a place in the girls’ singles final with a 6-3, 6-2 defeat by Russia’s Mirra Andreeva.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic’s father Srdjan opted to stay away from his son’s semi-final against Tommy Paul following the furor about video footage of him with Russian fans carrying a Russian flag with Vladimir Putin’s face on it.
In a statement, Djokovic Sr said: “I had no intention of causing such headlines or disruption. I was outside with Novak’s fans as I have done after all of my son’s matches to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace. So there is no disruption to tonight’s semi-final for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home. I wish for a great match and I will be cheering for my son, as always.”