Grand Slam title and World number one: Tsitsipas ambition is inspired in Djokovic
RIYADH – Stefanos Tsitsipas wants a Grand Slam and the top of the ranking in 2023. Something like what Carlos Alcaraz achieved in 2022: a major title and number one.
His greatest ambitions are expressed in words full of confidence. For those goals, the challenge is to improve a part of his game: “The return will be a very important aspect to bring me to the world number one.”
The inspiration behind his desire has a full name: Novak Djokovic. For the 2021 Roland Garros finalist, the Serb represents everything that is good in a tennis player.
“He is the toughest and the most consistent. A perfectionist who took tennis to another kind of level. His diet, his physical work, the stretching, and his professionalism in every single area. I don’t think there is a single thing that he hasn’t thought off. Even the analysis I’ve heard from him. Novak is very advanced,” Tsitsipas told CLAY in the middle of the Diriyah Tennis Cup in the Saudi Arabian capital, along with a small group of journalists.
“Personally I feel very inspired,” confessed the Greek, who takes note of what the 21-time Grand Slam winner teaches: “I feel like there are a lot of these things that I can put into my tennis, and increase the knowledge around my game. Once I get my mind around that and become more professional, even more than I already am, it shouldn’t be an accident to get to number one. I know my abilities as an athlete and how hard I’ve worked.”
The Greek doesn’t mention that goal without first landing the hungry numbers in his equation. “If I am able to return deep 95 per cent of second serves, even 75 per cent of my opponents’ first serves, I can do great things in 2023,” the ATP No. 4 detailed.
“My serve is better and much more loose. I have a great return that has been good in practice, but not at its best in matches. I can add more pressure when I return and not overthink it. I need to put more pressure and I need to be aggressive on the first ball.
The 24-year-old knows he was very inconsistent at the biggest tournaments in 2022, and at the same time, he is clear that it’s on the big stages where there’s a lot of ground to gain.
– Will there be a new Grand Slam winner this season?
– I would love to be put myself there. I’m a hard worker, I believe in what I do and I have the physical ability to make it happen.
Satisfaction means only one thing to Tsitsipas: success and consistency in the majors.
“I just want to be more consistent in the Grand Slams. I’m not asking to win them all, but if I can get consecutive semi-finals, finals and titles in the Grand Slams, I would be very satisfied. I see the opportunities there. I just need to be focused and make the shots in th right tournaments, go deep and put those results in place when I have to.”
It was at the Australian Open that he went furthest in 2022. Daniil Medvedev stopped him in the semi-finals; and at Roland Garros he lost in the last 16 to Holger Rune. After Paris, he didn’t pick up any more points at the majors: Wimbledon gave no points to anyone (third round loss to Nick Kyrgios) and at the US Open he was the disappointment of the tournament, losing to Colombian Daniel Galan in the opener.
“There is a lot of room for improvement there. The season was difficult and very exhausting. Somehow I managed to be the player with the most wins of the year despite not going full in the Grand Slams. I even told my agent that I wanted to play as many events as possible. He was right to warn me that it would not be easy for the body, although I was prepared and had to make up for the wasted points in the Slams. I drove my tennis very fiercely, made a lot of finals and got to fight for the number one. I was satisfied,” he said.
The Greek has faith. And his declarations in the run-up to the 2023 season clarify the outlook for the pursuit of the epic.
PHOTOGRAPH: Alexander Scheuber @alexanderscheuber
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