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Happy Birthday, Stefanos Tsitsipas: philosophical Greek star turns 24 amid uncertain summer
Tsitsipas will begin a new year in search of the form that took him within inches of a maiden major title at last year’s Roland Garros.
Published Aug 12, 2022
WATCH: Tsitsipas came agonizingly close to his first major title at 22. Now, 24, he aims to go one better.
Stefanos Tsitsipas had not yet turned 24 earlier this season when the perennial Top 10 stalwart was already starting to feel old.
“You can see he's very hungry,” the former world No. 3 said of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in Rome. “He plays very fresh and hungry, like has nothing to lose.
“It kind of reminds me of my early days when I was introduced to the ATP Tour. I didn't really know what to expect along the way. I was just playing carelessly, completely free-spirited.”
While there are still flashes of carelessness on court, it’s tough to argue the philosophically-presenting Tsitsipas hasn’t looked exactly free-spirited of late. At 22, he very nearly reached the pinnacle of his young career last spring: he won the first two sets of the 2021 Roland Garros final against Novak Djokovic, only to lose the next three and subsequently struggle to find that extra gear, undergoing an elbow surgery at the end of the season.
"I remember being at the Nitto ATP Finals a few days before the surgery and I was thinking of quitting,” he admitted before the BNP Paribas Open in March. “I didn't think back then that anyone would be able to help me heal and get back to where I wanted.
"It was a very difficult moment that I had to go through. I was in a very bad place."
Though the Greek has enjoyed several stabilizing results in 2022, returning to the Australian Open semifinals and defending his Rolex Monte Carlo Masters title, losses to young guns like Alcaraz, Holger Rune, and Jack Draper have left Tsitsipas in a state of unenviable flux: caught between pursuing the likes of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and holding off a fast-approaching next generation.
“These kids are going to want to beat me badly because obviously they are chasing,” he said after enduring a shock loss to Rune in Paris. “I'm chasing too, but I'm at a different kind of position than they are. I'm hungry to beat them too. Now that they have beat me. I want pay back.”
Though payback has been slow to come, Tsitsipas nonetheless remains optimistic and continues supplementing his on-court efforts with off-court passions like vlogging. The latest episode of his Tennis Channel International series Dear Fans gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at his team, helmed by parents Apostolos and Julia—a former player who once won a tournament in Monte Carlo, where Stef would later twice triumph.
“She played tennis back in the day, when it was really cool to play tennis,” he jokes.
The newly-minted 24-year-old will next head to Cincinnati, in search of both a first Western & Southern Open title and that spark that may still be missing from his game.
Luckily for Tsitsipas, inspiration is always around the corner.