The Rise of Tsitsipas
The rise of the Stefanos Tsitsipas - How far will he go?
Stefanos Tsitsipas has been a player I have watched for 2-3 years now. His final against Rafa Nadal at the Rogers Cup in 2018 was a strong indication he was heading towards brilliant things. Why is he so good though?
This question I ask myself a lot, not just with Stefanos, with all players. Why is he winning matches more than some other players. His serve isn't the most impactful in the sport, his forehand is strong but no lightning bolt and his backhand no Joker. It's interesting.
Let's look at a few of the other elements. Mindset, court structure, movement and where I think he excels is, his self knowledge.
Mindset wise, he seems to cope with adversity very well and handles defeats (though not happy) with an attitude that allows him to move forward and take away the learnings.
His court structure is amazingly solid. He structures the points really well with his cross court foundations and is confident and aggressive when changing things up. He has a mighty inside out forehand that he hits behind his opponents to the ad-court. Federer does this also but not a whole lot of other players do.
He is an exceptional mover and strong on higher shots. As a single handed he plays the ball above his shoulders really well. Strong and effective shots. It's not a weakness. His running forehand slice offers him a lot of time to recover as he normally pins it deep in the forehand corner. He slides so well on clay and seems to chases everything he can. He's a fighter and moves really well.
The area that, in my opinion, is separating him from the pack is his self knowledge and self awareness. When you listen to him talk in press conferences, on his YouTube channel and across other media outlets, you feel a sense of knowing. He understands himself, he appreciates a philosophical view of the world and doesn't get bogged down with trivial things. He is able to remove the here and now and look at the bigger picture and understand his place in the world, in the sport and in himself. I believe this largely comes from his father and mother.
His father is a passionate tennis player and coach. Also a deep person in thought and practise. His mother, Russian born, comes from a athletic background. She has seen what a totalitarian state training environment looks like. The good and bad. To move from that space to the home of democracy and freedom must be a great yin and yang moment and constant reminder of what's possible. The magic that his parents experience, life lessons and character have brought to Stefanos is becoming clearer and clearer the more we see him.
Stefanos Tsitsipas is going to feature at the top of the sport for a very long time. He is the most successful Greek tennis player and if he can find some extra 2-3% within his game, could be someone we talk about as one of histories greatest. Is it a forgone conclusion? No of course not. It is possible though and that's why we are so exciting to watch this young Greek play the incredible sport of tennis.
What are your thought of Stefanos? How do you see him game stack up and what are your ideas on his strengths and weaknesses?