Though the sport of tennis has largely come to be dominated by three names in recent years – those of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic – one player has become a household name based on his sheer talent alone. Stefanos Tsitsipas has stunned audiences around the world with his physicality and while he might not have cracked the exclusive top three just yet, watching him play leaves little doubt in your mind that Tsitsipas is the future of tennis.
While 2021 has been a difficult time for most, Tsitsipas has had it particularly rough. Just before he stepped out to play Djokovic in his first Grand Slam final at the French Open earlier this month, he received news that his paternal grandmother had died. Stavroula is credited as being the woman who shaped Tsitsipas, following his tennis closely and championing every victory. Though the news rocked Tsitsipas, as the world No 4 prepares for Wimbledon, he believes he is now playing with something of a higher purpose.
In an interview with The Guardian, Tsitsipas explained, “There’s a reason behind everything, and I’m sure she’s with us every single day, despite her absence from life. But I’m really excited for the next part of the journey. I really want to make her proud and I really want to dedicate most of my future success to her. She had an important and a big role in my upbringing and the person I am today.”
At just 22-years-old, Tsitsipas is a fresh talent, but having burst onto the tennis scene at a young age, he’s already matured far beyond many of his peers. It’s a quality that serves him well, and enables him to adapt with resilience and poise, rebounding from hard losses or a devastating defeat with a view of the bigger picture. “Being younger, I obsessed every single day as if nothing else matters and my life was just around it 24/7. I think having found ways to kind of go away for a little bit when I’m not on the court and just be out of it for a little bit helps me have a clearer picture and live life with more meaning,” he said.
Of the last 71 grand slam events, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have won 59 of them. It’s made it incredibly tough for any new-comer to break the domination of the top three, but Tsitsipas is confident he can level-up and has ambitions of being an exclusive member of the Top Three Club. “Patience is power, that is something for sure that I learned” he explains. “I’m optimistic. I see results in what I’m trying to do.”
Still, a fourth-round run in 2018 remains Tsitsipas’ best performance at Wimbledon to date, presenting something of a mental challenge for the young star. But after incredible performances and being so close at the French Open final, he believes he is ready to break new ground. “I’m actually excited,” says Tsitsipas. “I think this year could be a different one. I’ve grown. I’ve witnessed a couple of different things, I have more experience. And I would also say slightly more confident than I was before. Wimbledon has been always my favourite tournament. I haven’t quite had the result I wished for yet but it is something that I’m really working towards.”
He added, “It is going to mean a lot, if I am able to pull something out.”