PORTOROZ, August 8, 2017
#NextGenATP stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur headlined Tuesday’s first round afternoon session at the €43,000 Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open. The two 18-year-olds squared off for the fourth time with Tsitsipas gaining his third win.
On another hot and sunny day in Portoroz, the World No. 168 from Greece dominated most of the rallies, winning 84 per cent of his first service points and broke serve four times to advance after 66 minutes.
“It was a good match. I stayed focus throughout the match,” Tsitsipas told Tennis TourTalk after the encounter. “Alex is a very promising player. We are not close friends but we see each other pretty often on the tour, playing the same tournaments. He played in the final in Segovia and I could feel that he was tired from the previous week. I think it was also difficult for him to adjust to the conditions here.”
Tsitsipas has returned to Portoroz for the second after losing in the qualifying in 2015.
“I really like it here. My only wish would be the weather to be a bit more balanced, as it is extremely hot. We have friends here and it is great to be back. The people are really nice and the organization is great. The location is awesome, right next to the sea and the food is also very good. It reminds me a bit of Greece.”
The teenager from Athens is coached by his father Apostolos and practices at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Nice.
“Conditions there are great. I always have good players to hit with as well as a private coach. Patrick is also often around, giving me some advices and helps tennis-wise. Everything is pretty perfect there. I have zero complaints about the academy. That’s why I chose to go there, spending most of my time of preparation there.”
Tsitsipas is currently ranked No. 30 in the ATP Race to Milan. “The #NextGen campaign is a really good thing. It will help young players to develop their game, having their own kind of “Tour”. It could give you some extra motivation to get to know the ATP better and how it works.”
Tsitsipas qualified for his first Grand Slam main draws at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. “It was unreal. I didn’t expect to qualify to any of the majors. I was not even thinking about it. My goal was to win one or two rounds in the qualifying.”
Asked which of the Grand Slams was the better experience, Tsitsipas said: “It’s tough to say. Roland Garros was the first one and I had probably never felt so happy before. The second one, however, was even more special. I always loved Wimbledon more because of the tradition and the grass. It was dream to come true, playing the main draw there.”
About his goals for the rest of the season he said: “Now I would like to enter the Top 150 ahead of the US Open. By the end of the year, I would like to go for the Top 100.”
Next up for Tsitsipas in Portoroz will be 2015 champion Luca Vanni of Italy, who knocked out the tournament’s number five Egor Gerasimov from Belarus 7-5, 6-3.
Earlier in the day, second seed Peter Gojowczyk from Germany was forced to retire in his match against Croatian qualifier Franko Skugor due to injury, trailing 3-6, 1-3.
“I struggled with an injury at my calf in my latest practice sessions. Today it got worse during the match and so I decided to stop the match,” Gojowczyk explained afterwards.
“I also travelled a lot in recent times. I was in Atlanta, followed by a 26 hours journey to Segovia. Unfortunately, I lost my opening match there but playing in the altitude at about 1,000 metres made it very tough. Now, I will go back home, enjoying some days of rest and hope that the injury will heal very soon. I do not think that it is something worse. I expect to be back on the court in four or five days. On August 17 I will travel to the US Open alongside my coach Alexander Satschko.”
Skugor will take on Slovenian wild card entry Sven Lah in the second round. Third seed Sergiy Stakhovsky from the Ukraine also advanced with a 7-6, 6-2 win over Italian Matteo Viola.