Who is Stefanos Tsitsipas?
Tennis fans have been enormously lucky to have been living through the golden era of some of the very best to have ever picked up a racquet. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are all first-ballot hall-of-famers but unfortunately injuries and age are rapidly creeping up on their legendary careers. So who are the new crop of talent that will be dominating the sport for the next decade? One of them may very well be Stefanos Tsitsipas, the recent conqueror of Federer at this year's Australian Open.
The 20-year-old Greek upstart spoke to Esquire Middle East ahead of the next month's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (February 25 to March 2).
Who was your tennis icon growing up?
It was Roger Federer. I admired his game and his personality on court. It seemed like he was always doing the right thing and I just wanted to be like him.
FedExpress. The Djoker. If you could pick your own nickname what would it be?
I would probably say ‘Tsitsifast’, mainly because it matches with my surname. I am working on my speed on the court so it can match with my #Tsitsifast nickname.
What age were you when you first picked up a tennis racket?
I started playing tennis at the age of six in Glyfalda Tennis Club which is a small suburb in Athens. I started playing on clay courts, and it was very important to start on this surface as I rarely struggle with injuries. I think the clay is a perfect surface to start on as a kid, you can learn much more than playing on hard courts.
Tell us what inspired you to want to play tennis professionally?
It was a sport I loved from the very beginning. It didn’t seem like an option to me but decided one day to start taking it more seriously after I won my first junior tournament. Being alone on the court and fighting for my own results is what inspired me to play.
In your career so far, what achievement are you most proud of?
I would say my run in Toronto 2018 was great, getting to the final in an ATP Masters 1000 event. So far that is my greatest achievement, but I also rank my first professional ATP tournament win in Stockholm 2018. That meant a lot to me too.
What is your lofty goal for 2019?
My goals for 2019 are to play in a semi-final at a Grand Slam, win an ATP Masters 1000 and ATP 500 tournament, collecting over 3000 ATP ranking points and qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
If you could only win one Grand Slam, which would you choose?
I would probably say Wimbledon, but sometimes I think the atmosphere and emotion of the Australian Open would be amazing. With the big Greek community in Melbourne, holding the trophy there would be the best feeling on earth.
What music do you listen to pump you up?
My favourite song at the moment is ‘Hoppipolla’ by Sigur Rós. I don’t listen to one type of music, I listen to a little bit of everything.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
My rituals would be having everything my towels, balls, kit and equipment all in order. I like to have control of the things that I have in my bag. Freshly strung rackets, energy bars and gels need to be in the right place so I know where things are when I need them on court.