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“Just play tennis”: Tsitsipas learning to think less on court
“It is very important for me to take this opportunity and fight harder this time,” the No. 5 seed, who is set to meet with fellow 22-year-old Rublev in a rematch of the Hamburg final, said after his fourth-round match.
October 06, 2020
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Stefanos Tsitsipas left the French Open in 2019 having gone down in five sets to Stan Wawrinka. He returned this year and immediately found himself in another five-setter, coming back from two sets down to win in the first round against world No. 109 Jaume Munar.
“I need matches like this in my career,” said Tsitsipas, recalling his meeting with Wawrinka. We all need matches like this in our career.”
He might have needed the wake-up call he got in the first round, too—the 22-year-old from Greece has played a lot better since defeating Munar, and cruised to the quarterfinals.
“It was a very good lesson for me. Every match has its own value, its own worth,” said Tsitsipas. “My game is aggressive, my game is there.”
Now he’s back in another familiar position—playing Andrey Rublev. On the first day of the French Open, the two were playing in the Hamburg final, with Rublev winning in three sets.
“It is very important for me to take this opportunity and fight harder this time,” said Tsitsipas. “Maybe do something better.”
But this was not their first meeting—they were even rivals in the juniors.
“We grew up playing together,” said Tsitsipas. “He’s going to be difficult to play against. He has a very complete, solid game from all the departments. He has improved a lot his serve. He relies a lot on his power. He has very powerful shots.
“We share a similar game style. Mine would probably be more coming to the net, using a bit more the angles. He’s a very challenging player to play against. I think he for sure brings the best out of me when I step out on the court to play against him.”
Like many young players, he’s had an up-and-down journey towards the top, currently positioned at No. 6 in the rankings. At the US Open, he fell in five sets against Borna Coric, having been up 5-1 in the fourth, but has bounced back.
The thoughtful big-hitter says he’s learned to think less on court.
“Just play tennis, and forget the rest,” he said.
That could help him challenge for the title, according to Tim Henman.
“It’s interesting to hear him say how comfortable he is on clay,” said Henman on Eurosport.” If he can keep that balance between aggressive play and consistency, I think he’s a threat for this tournament. He’s played a lot of clay-court tennis and when he’s talking about the way he was brought up, which is very important for feel out there, he talks about clay-court tennis.
“So I think we are talking about a world-class player, an all-rounder and someone who can compete on any surface.”