Greek Tennis Player Stefanos Tsitsipas Wins Nitto ATP Finals Crown
Stefanos Tsitsipas captured the biggest title of his career on Sunday, November 17 making the successful transition from 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion to the Nitto ATP Finals crown, 12 months on. He also became the first Greek player to win a major tennis tournament.
The sixth-seeded Greek defeated fifth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) over two hours and 35 minutes in the championship match at The O2 in London. At 21 years and three months, Tsitsipas is the youngest Nitto ATP Finals champion since former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt (20) in 2001, in Sydney. Tsitsipas, who earned $2,656,000 in prize money and 1,300 ATP Rankings points in five matches this week, is also the first player since David Nalbandian in 2005 to recover from losing the opening set and claim the title.
“I have no clue how I played so well in the second set,” he said after his triumphant victory. “I have no idea. I think my mind was at ease and I wasn’t really thinking of much, which led to such a great performance in the second set, breaking him twice. “I didn’t give him much options to play with in the second set. It was pretty much an excellent set for me.”
The game was tough.. “It was pretty frustrating for me to be playing with such nerves for the first time in such a big event. I was a break up, I couldn’t manage to hold it. Things were decided in the tie-break and I am so relieved by this outstanding performance and fight that I gave out on the court.”
Tsitsipa also thanked his fans who were there all along. “[The crowd support] is just phenomenal, having such an army behind me while I am on the court. They give me so much energy. They give me belief that I can achieve the things I want to achieve on the court. They motivate me. They just give me so much energy in general and I just love that. I would like to thank every single one [of the fans] who came here to support me today with the Greek flags. They made it feel like home.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas (Στέφανος Τσιτσιπάς) was born 12 August 1998. He is the youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and has a career-high ranking of No. 5 in the world, making him the highest-ranked Greek player in history. He has won four ATP singles titles and reached nine finals.
Born into a tennis family where his mother was a professional on the WTA Tour and his father was trained as a tennis coach, he was introduced to the sport at age three and began taking lessons at age six. As a junior, he was ranked No. 1 in the world. He also became the third Greek player, and first Greek male in the Open Era, to win a junior Grand Slam title with his victory in the 2016 Wimbledon boy’s doubles event.
Tsitsipas won his first ATP match in late 2017 and quickly ascended up the ATP rankings the following year. He reached three tour-level finals in 2018 and won his first title at the Stockholm Open. With his runner-up finish at the Canadian Open, he became the youngest player to defeat four top ten opponents in a single tournament. After culminating his season with an exhibition title at the Next Gen ATP Finals, he continued to build on his success by reaching the semifinals at the 2019 Australian Open. He is an aggressive baseliner. He aims to hit powerful groundstroke winners and has a particularly strong forehand using an eastern grip. He also has a big serve and can go to the net more often than typical baseline players.
His signature shot is his one-handed backhand, a rarity in modern tennis. He experimented with both one-handed and two-handed backhands in his youth, but chose to go with the former at around eight years old because both of his parents as well as his idol Roger Federer whom he defeated two days ago, all use a one-handed backhand, and also because it felt more natural. His favorite shot is the backhand down-the-line.
Former British No. 1 players Greg Rusedski and Annabel Croft have both praised Tsitsipas’s on-court demeanor in conjunction with his style of play. Rusedski in particular has said that “[Tsitsipas] reminds me a little bit of Bjorn Borg. He does all the right things, he is spectacular as a tennis player and was just sensational with the way he was so calm and composed and he didn’t blink when it came to the crunch. He has the competitive nature of Andy Murray, but he also has a calmness which reminds me of Roger Federer.”
Stefanos is fluent in English, Greek, and Russian. He is a supporter of Greek football team AEK and his hobbies include vlogging. He hosts his own YouTube channel where he posts videos of his travels.
Tsitsipas credits his mother’s twin sister, who was also a professional tennis player in the Soviet Union, for helping with the family’s finances so that he could afford to travel with his father to train and compete during his junior career. His maternal grandfather Sergei Salnikov was an Olympic gold medal-winning member of the Soviet National Football and a former manager of FC Spartak Moscow
Additional info for this article was taken from Wikipedia.