Tsitsipas Excited For ‘New Challenge’ In Melbourne

Tsitsipas Excited For ‘New Challenge’ In Melbourne

Tennis

A lot has changed for Stefanos Tsitsipas in the past year. The 21-year-old has graduated from 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals winner to 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion, broken into the Top 5 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time and added three ATP Tour titles to his collection.

At the site of his Grand Slam breakthrough, a semi-final run in Melbourne last year, Tsitsipas is now keen to grasp another opportunity to shine in front of a passionate crowd at the first major championship of the year.

“[I am] really looking forward to this new challenge that I have in front of me, to show something,” said Tsitsipas. “I have great memories from here last year, semi-finals, living the dream, playing with so much adrenaline. I really enjoy the crowd, the people’s energy here.”

In 2019, Tsitsipas showed his fighting spirit to win five consecutive four-set matches to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final at this event. The 6’4” Athens native inspired the crowd with his fearless, attacking style of play, most evident in his fourth-round victory against two-time defending champion Roger Federer.

Since falling to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, the World No. 6 has not only improved his game, but also his mentality. Tsitsipas has been working on finding an emotional balance in matches to gain a greater level of consistency.

“I found more balance within me,” said Tsitsipas. “Before I was very inconsistent with my emotions. I could become, in a few of the matches, suddenly angry and frustrated… I’ve been really working on this. I think being balanced in my head and thinking in a straight line will help me.

“I’m going to try it. I mean, I hope it helps me grow as a player. I think balance is important for someone to grow. If you are just one day on, one day off with your emotions, they can cost you.”

For the first time at a Grand Slam event, Tsitsipas will be defending more than 180 FedEx ATP Rankings Points. The four-time ATP Tour titlist, who will face Salvatore Caruso in the first round, earned 720 points for his run to the last four in 2019 and will hope to learn from a similar experience at last year’s Coupe Rogers in Montreal.

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After defeating four consecutive Top 10 players en route to a runner-up finish in 2018, the Greek struggled to handle the pressure of defending 600 points in Canada and fell in his opening match against Hubert Hurkacz.

“I really had stress before the Montreal tournament last year, knowing that I did finals in Toronto [in 2018],” said Tsitsipas. “After losing… I was like, ‘Why should you be so stressed? There’s no point.’

“Just start fresh, it’s a new tournament, don’t think of what happened in the past, and try to play your best, compete your best. I think if you think of it too much, it just ruins your game. So keep it simple.”

If Tsitsipas does feel the pressure during his 2020 campaign in Melbourne, the World No. 6 knows he can always rely on the support of the large Greek community at Melbourne Park. Greek fans supported Tsitsipas in great numbers last year, but the 2019 semi-finalist joked that he also wants to see his supporters embrace their own new challenge on their return to Melbourne Park this year.

“I hope they come with new chants,” said Tsitsipas. “I hear the same every single year.”

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