Stefanos Tsitsipas: Natural Born Fighter
Stefanos Tsitsipas is the highest ranked Greek player in the history of tennis, striking a career-best No.3 just before his 23rd birthday in 2021, 20 years after taking his first steps on a tennis court, coached by his father Apostolos in Athens.
Tsitsipas’ mother, Julia Apostoli, was also an excellent player and, like Stefanos, was a world number one junior, so it was no surprise when success came quickly to this stand-out Next Generation superstar, dubbed a Greek God.
Tsitsipas is competing in his third Laver Cup and has won five points for Team Europe, undefeated in singles and successfully pairing with Andrey Rublev at TD Garden in Boston last year.
When Tsitsipas first joined Team Europe at Geneva in 2019, he said it was a lifetime dream to share the court with his idols, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
His inclusion in the team for London is “like being part of the Chicago Bulls in the golden era”.
“I’m very honored to be part of this team, I think this team is the most iconic team Laver Cup has ever had,” he says. “I feel very privileged to be part of this squad, part of this group of legends, and learn as much as I can from them.”
How it’s going
Since winning the 2019 year-end ATP finals at the age of 18, Tsitsipas has cemented his place in the top 10 and, in 2022, held his ground at many of the Tour’s biggest tournaments.
The year began with another strong showing at Melbourne Park where the Greek wore down Team World rival Taylor Fritz in a five-set Australian Open third round marathon.
He followed up with a textbook three-set victory over Italian Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals before bowing out to second seed Daniil Medvedev in the semis. Tsitsipas’ prowess on hard courts continued at Rotterdam, where he finished runner-up to another Team World adversary, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and in Acapulco, he was stopped by Cameron Norrie in the semifinals.
From April, Tsitsipas hit his stride on clay, successfully defending the ATP 1000 Masters crown at Monte Carlo, where he dropped only one set (to Diego Schwartzman) in the quarterfinals on the way to picking up a seventh career title.
He maintained form in Barcelona, prevented from advancing past the last eight by unstoppable Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, and reached the last four in Madrid, where former Laver Cup teammate Alexander Zverev lay in wait. The German bettered Stefanos in Spain, but the Greek improved his overall head-to-head against Zverev to 8-4 when they met in the semifinals of the Rome Masters.
Tsitsipas was runner-up to Novak Djokovic in Rome and at Roland Garros, where he had reached his first Grand Slam singles final in 2021, he battled hard to make the Round of 16, then quickly adjusted to grass-court tennis, claiming a ninth ATP Tour singles title at Mallorca.
Tsitsipas faced familiar rival Nick Kyrgios in the third round at Wimbledon, their high-rating match won by the Australian in four gruelling sets. The Greek bounced back at the Cincinnati Masters, where he upset world No.1 Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals.
On playing Laver Cup
Tsitsipas expresses great confidence in Team Europe. “I think we have achieved great things,” he says. “Having so many Grand Slam champions pair up in a single team gives us big chances to get some big wins, fight against the youngsters as well as the older dogs of Team World.”
He’s also looking forward to returning to The O2, scene of a remarkable ATP Finals breakthrough.
“I will come back with great memories in the back of my head, I think it’s a great destination for tennis and that court is the perfect place to have a battle like this.”
He believes Team Europe’s composure has seen them through some tight moments in four editions of Laver Cup competition.
“Our fighting spirit is something that makes a huge difference. We are natural born fighters, we hate to lose and we give our all around the court.”