Although Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are far from their heyday, the tennis world lacks outstanding talents. None are more scintillating or more polarizing than the Greek wunderkind Stefanos Tsitsipas. This year, he lost to Djokovic at the Australian Open, which spurred some questions about how he’ll perform at the French Open.
Aside from his undeniable ability, pundits have also been talking about his growing issues with his temper, as well as the lack of Grand Slams in his trophy cabinet. So in today’s article, we’ll look at what makes Stefanos Tsitsipas unique and what the future holds for him. Although he’s always been a top-class player, there are certain things he needs to address before ascending to the next level.
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He was a top-class player from his early years
As seen on Wikipedia, Tsitsipas was born to a Russian mother and a Greek father in Athens. Both of his parents were exceptional tennis talents. His mother, Julia, is a former world no. 1 Junior, and she met her father whilst he worked as a line judge at a WTA tournament in Athens. Thus, young Stefanos had the perfect situation to thrive and develop his skills.
Like his mother, he climbed to the top of the ITF Junior rankings, slowly climbing up as a teenager. In 20213, he focused on ITF Futures tournaments and the occasional ATP Challenger Tour Event. The highlights of this phase include a doubles champion at the junior Wimbledon after pairing with the Estonian phenom Kenneth Raisma.
After winning 11 futures titles, Tsitsipas focused on ITF Challengers and made a name for himself at the Mohammedia and Casablanca events in Morocco. This earned him a wild card spot at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. His first ATP Tour experience allowed him to thrive even further, resulting in a surprising victory at the 2018 Stockholm Open. He was also the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up and put up a valiant fight against Federer at the 2019 Australian Open.
Living up to the hype?
As you can see, success was written in the stars from the very beginning. And at 24, Stefanos is barely scratching the surface of his potential. He has nine ATP Masters titles to his name, with the highlights being wins at the ATP Masters 1000 Finals in 2021 and 2022.
Despite being a fan favourite, some questions still surround his overall performance. This can seem baffling to some, we know. After all, he’s a wagering favourite. So, what’s the issue?
Tsitsipas still struggles with his personality and abilities
Tsitsipas has faced a lot of criticism in regard to his personality, temperament, and attitude over the years. This has resulted in the tennis world effectively being separated into two camps. One group is scolding him, while the other completely excuses his behaviour. The truth is in the middle, as his outbursts have happened far too often to be ignored.
For instance, he irritated everyone at the 2021 US Open with his long bathroom break against Andy Murray. In response, the ATP limited the time for bathroom breaks and clothing changes to 3 and 2 minutes, respectively. Stefanos hasn’t publicly admitted using his long breaks as a form of mind game, but everyone knows what’s going on. This has been the biggest point of criticism, with some pundits referring to this as malicious tactics.
Then, there’s another elephant in the rum — his repeated talking during the match. Whether it’s arguing with the umpire or telling his team to shut up, it’s no secret that Tsitsipas’s activities have disrupted countless matches. And despite the reprimands and punishments, he refuses to reign his temper in. Sure, he’s a young player, but where does it end?
Another thing worth mentioning is his excessive social media use. We all remember his outspoken attitude during the pandemic and multiple instances of inappropriate Instagram stories and posts. Certain people have also pointed out that his vlogging could be distracting, especially during key training periods.
Although all of this seems relatively benign, it’s evident that these factors have compounded together and caused some issues. Tsitsipas must make some changes to become a more mature tennis player to become genuinely consistent.
Can he complete the conquest of a major Grand Slam?
Everyone dreams of a Grand Slam. There have been numerous players that were able to win Masters 1000 events consistently. But without a Grand Slam, you’re forgotten in the history books. Don’t get us wrong — Tommy Haas, Kei Nishikori, and David Ferrer are all outstanding, but they missed that extra bit of magic needed to win one of the Big Four.
In a vacuum, that’s completely fine, but everyone knows that Tsitsipas is too talented to end up like this. That would be like LeBron James only making 5 All-Star appearances in his career. It’s great but doesn’t meet the expectations. Stefanos’ main problem seems to be consistency. On some days, he’s brilliant, and on others, he’s all over the place mentally.
As reported by ATPtour.com, he choked away two break points and managed to start crumbling in the first set. This is common for him, as he does tend to fall into a spiral when things aren’t going great. In a vacuum, this is normal, but only at times. So, what must Stefanos Tsitsipas do before winning his first Grand Slam?
Well, for starters, he has to address the father issue. Apostolos Tsitsipas is a distraction. Even though he has a new head coach, Mark Philippousis, Apostolos is still on the team and plays a significant role. Also, there have been rumours about Stefanos being lazy and unwilling to increase the intensity of his workouts.
The point is — he cannot ride on talent alone. As his legs amass more mileage, it will be tough to battle against more disciplined players. So until Stefanos becomes more restrained, calm and committed to his craft, that first Grand Slam will continue to elude him. He still has time, though.