Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas is a rare beast on the tennis tour and that’s just how he likes it
Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas is a rare beast on the tennis tour and that’s just how he likes it

Why ‘cool’ Greek star has Kyrgios’ respect

When other tennis stars whined about quarantine, Stefanos Tsitsipas got creative.

Tsitsipas knows no other way - calling the lockdown period "entertaining and fun" - as one of the rare members of the Australian Open-bound tennis circus not obsessed with only what happens on court.

The Greek pin-up's left-field thinking long ago drew praise from Australian star Nick Kyrgios, who asked to play doubles with him largely because of that.

"I saw him one year setting up his tripod at 9am, videoing trains," Kyrgios said of Tsitsipas on the No Challenges Remaining podcast.

"I was like, 'Dude, something's not right here', but he's an unbelievable tennis player, he does his own thing and I think it's cool."

 

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas with ATP Cup teammates Petros Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis and Markos Kalovelonis at Stalactites restaurant. Picture: Rob Leeson
Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas with ATP Cup teammates Petros Tsitsipas, Michail Pervolarakis and Markos Kalovelonis at Stalactites restaurant. Picture: Rob Leeson

 

Tsitsipas actively seeks more for himself, whether through vlogging, photography, finding inspirational quotes or, more recently, developing 'lo-fi' hip hop tracks to expand his horizons.

He also says he's trying to help his tennis-playing brother Petros' budding rap career get off the ground (although Petros said on Sunday his music dabbling was "nothing serious").

Melbourne's famous Greek restaurant, Stalactites, even launched the 'Tsitsipas Souvlaki' in 2019, with all sales last year going towards Australia's bushfire relief efforts.

"I see a lot of players and obviously they're hitting a ball very well and the tennis part remains very important to me as well," Tsitsipas told the Herald Sun.

 

"We will be doing this for almost half of our lives, but I see the bigger picture, I see the future.

"I'm sitting here thinking, 'What am I going to do now that is going to have an effect in the future?', except for my tennis, which I'm really proud of and happy to be where I am.

"But what kind of impact can I have on the world and to many communities out there? This new hope I've put into my life has made a huge difference and brought a lot of happiness and joy to me."

They're not the typical words of a 22-year-old ranked sixth in one of the widest-played sports in the world and with two grand slam semi-finals to his name.

 

Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios shake hands after their ATP Cup clash last year.
Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios shake hands after their ATP Cup clash last year.


At the same time, Tsitsipas also has major on-court goals for this year, including winning a "big" title, whether that's at grand slam, Masters or ATP 500 level.

That's certainly within reach for a player who's already taken the scalps of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal (on clay), Dominic Thiem, Alex Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

On Wednesday night, Tsitsipas stands in the way of Alex de Minaur and an Australian ATP Cup victory, with his father Apostolos as captain and younger brother Petros a fellow team member.

His temper explosion against Kyrgios at last year's ATP Cup - where he accidentally whacked his father with his racquet - hasn't been forgotten, but his serene off-court ways help make those occurrences rare.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has big hopes on and off the court. Picture: AAP
Stefanos Tsitsipas has big hopes on and off the court. Picture: AAP

Tsitsipas has never beaten Kyrgios, but also never lost to de Minaur at senior level and plans to keep it that way.

"He's an opponent I take very seriously. He moves extremely well on the court and I'm going to have to overtake him on that," he said of de Minaur.

"He probably doesn't have one of the best serves on the tour, but he somehow manages to compensate that with his defensive skills and speed. He can do crazy things sometimes.

"Alex is going to be a serious challenge. I know he's going to push it to 100 and I need to be mentally there in every single game to help my country get the win."

Originally published as Why 'cool' Greek star has Kyrgios' respect


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