STARNBERG, August 12, 2020
Tennis fans have been spoiled over the last 20 years, with some of the greatest names to swing a racquet gracing the game in that time. While some will be keenly looking at the odds of Roger Federer winning Wimbledon next year, others will have their eye on the potential next big thing in the sport.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has very quickly made a name for himself on the ATP Tour, after reaching the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open in 2018, where he was defeated by then world number five Dominic Thiem. Not long after, he made it to the final of the Barcelona Open, where he was comfortably beaten by veteran superstar Rafael Nadal as was predicted by most tennis bookmakers.
Tsitsipas went on to win his first career Grand Slam match at the French Open, but lost out to eventual runner-up Thiem again on that occasion. He was then seeded 31 for the 2018 Wimbledon Championships, where he made it to the 4th round, eventually bowing out via a defeat to American John Isner.
After reaching the second round of the US Open, Tsitsipas made it all the way to the final of the Citi Open in Washington, where he was again defeated by Spaniard Rafael Nadal. His exploits to this point had seen his ATP ranking jump up to 15, but he wasn’t done yet. The Greek finished 2018 with a flourish, by winning the Stockholm Open and closing out the season with a Next Gen ATP Finals title. The win in Sweden made Tsitsipas the first ever Greek tennis player to win an ATP Tour event and he was also named ATP Most Improved Player for the year 2018.
If the world wasn’t paying attention yet, it was by the time Tsitsipas left his mark on the Australian Open in 2019, where he had his most successful Grand Slam finish to date. The talented Greek shocked the world with a fourth round win against Roger Federer and followed that up with a win against Roberto Bautista Agut, before succumbing to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. By this point, he had climbed to number 12 in the world rankings, making him the highest ranked Greek tennis player of all time.
Tsitsipas would avenge that defeat by knocking the Spaniard out of the Madrid Open, his first win over Nadal in four attempts, on his way to the final of that event, only to be beaten by world number one Novak Djokovic. The ATP was clearly keeping a close eye on his development, as they saw it fit to raise his ranking to 6th in the world.
Despite some troubled times mid-season, Tsitsipas went on to finish runner-up in the China Open, before qualifying for the ATP Finals for the first time in his career. He made it out of a group including Nadal, Zverev and Medvedev, before once again beating Federer and getting the better of Thiem in the final to become the youngest player to win the event since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.
Coming from good tennis stock, his mother Julia was an experienced tennis pro in her own right, Tsitsipas seems to have both the natural born ability and the right work ethic to succeed. At just 22 years of age, this young Greek could well be a future world number one.