Tsitsipas targets grand slam after ATP Finals triumph

LONDON Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas says he is within touching distance of claiming a grand slam title after being crowned ATP Finals champion in London on Sunday.

With his his victory over Dominic Thiem, the 21-year-old became the youngest season-ending winner since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, after rallying from behind to overcome the Austrian 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) in a 2 hour, 35 minute marathon. 

Tsitsipas, who is ranked sixth in the world, has also claimed victories over the world’s best three players Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the 2019 calendar.  

The "big three," as they are known, have collected the last 12 grand slam titles in a row from the 2017 Australian Open.

They have a combined record of 55 majors since Federer won his maiden Wimbledon in 2003. 

Tsitsipas believes that streak could come to an end in 2020 and he wants to be the one who breaks the cycle.

"I feel like my game is getting better over time, and I believe I’m really close on being crowned a Grand Slam champion," said Tsitsipas.

"I know these are strong words that I say, but I do feel like I belong to be there. I’m competing against one of the best players in the world, and the amount of effort and the amount of work I put in every day deserves to have an outcome like this." 

Tsitsipas first conquered Federer at the Australian Open in January, before taking down Nadal in Madrid and Djokovic at the Shanghai Masters. 

He says the youthful generation of players have to start eliminating the big three earlier in tournaments if their grand slam haul is to be stopped next year. 

"Someone needs to get [the] job done," Tsitsipas said, "to defeat them [in the] early rounds, because once they get deep in a tournament, they tend, as we saw over the years, to get better and play better, feel better," he said.

"That’s a really difficult task to do for players, to be able to beat them in these Grand Slams, because it’s the best-of-five format, and it just gives them more chances to stay in the match."

He added that he thinks that "if things were best-of-three, it could have been much more different when it comes to Grand Slam champions over the years."

However, Tsitsipas says he is not going to rush his target by predicting which one of the four grand slams will be his maiden major. 

"I wish I had an answer to that," Tsitsipas said. 

"I wish I could predict the future. I cannot predict the future. I don’t really mind any more. I believe all Grand Slams are great. They all have something unique in them," he said.

"I think most of the players, if you ask, want to win Wimbledon. But for me, any Grand Slam would be great."

One thing he does wish for is that any success in grand slams he has off the back of his ATP Finals triumph will see another Greek player join him in the top 10 one day. 

"There isn’t much of Greek tennis. It’s mostly football and basketball," Tsitsipas said.

"I do feel lonely on the ATP World Tour, being the only Greek that plays at such a high level. I honestly wish we see more players from Greece coming up who can do, honestly wish they can do better than me and push me and motivate me."

But for now, Tsitsipas wants to reflect on a successful season by treating his fans to another video blog on YouTube with his new trophy. 

"I’ll blog this thing," he said pointing at the ATP accolade. "I’m excited to show the world." 

dpa

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