Greek tennis fans worldwide went wild when rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas managed to beat his idol Roger Federer, then Roberto Bautista Agut, to reach the Australian open semi-finals. Just 20 years old, the son of a Greek tennis coach and a Russian mother who is a former tennis champion, Stefanos grew up in the Athens suburb of Glyfada and started playing in the local club. He now is the youngest player ranked in the top 20 by the Association of Tennis Professionals and has a career-high ranking of No. 15 in the world.
In the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Stefanos lost to another of his heroes, Rafael Nadal of Spain, to the great disappointment of the Greek community in Melbourne, who turned out in force to support him. However, Rafa played superbly on the day, while Stefanos afterwards reported he never felt right—perhaps he ‘froze’, having lost twice to him before.
I suspect the loss will only serve to sharpen his focus, and his determination to improve. His dream is, of course, to reach no 1, but also to etch his country’s name on the tennis world map. In this ambition he is staunchly supported by his father, who travels everywhere with him.
Stefanos is the eldest of four children, so things have not been easy for the family. He’s had help from his club, but none so far from the Greek federation. After his meteoric path through the junior rankings, and his early performances in Grand Slam singles events, he moved to the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy in France where he now trains. Hopefully, he can acquire some sponsorship to make his task a little easier.
Below are highlights from the match with Federer— some beautiful tennis.
It’s always fascinating to watch an evolving talent, so stay tuned for further developments.