MELBOURNE, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Greek third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas described the Australian Open as his “home slam”, saying the conditions in Melbourne remind him of the Attic Peninsula.
Tsitsipas, a three-time semi-finalist at the Australian Open, reached the quarter-finals on Sunday after he held firm to beat Italy’s Jannik Sinner 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3.
The 24-year-old was cheered on by his compatriots in the crowd, who showed their support by waving Greece’s flag and chanting about their tennis idol.
“I grew up in a climate that is very similar here, from the place I come from in southwestern Attica. It always reminds me of home a little bit when I’m here,” Tsitsipas told reporters.
“The conditions are similar. It’s not very humid, it’s not very tropical. I can say it’s similar to the Athenian Riviera.”
With Melbourne boasting the largest Greek population in Australia, Tsitsipas said he always felt at home when competing at the season-opening major.
“Another reason, another plus is wherever I look I see Greek faces, I see Greek people speaking Greek. Of course, it’s very important when you’re far away from home to have that sort of feeling, to connect even more with the culture that you’re at,” he said.
“It feels very welcoming when you’re able to walk around and feel that. It’s for sure my home slam, I would consider that … the French people have Roland Garros, the Brits have Wimbledon, the Americans have U.S. Open. For me it’s the Australian Open.”
Tsitsipas will meet unseeded 21-year-old Czech Jiri Lehecka for a place in the semi-finals.