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Will this be the summer of Stefanos Tsitsipas?
The young Greek cooled off on the grass, but is back on what's arguably his best surface.
Published Jul 31, 2019
For the better part of 2019, Stefanos Tsitsipas played tennis at a torrid pace, reaching the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time, winning two titles and cracking the Top 10.
However, it seemed that he hit a rough patch during the grass-court season, culminating with a first-round flameout at Wimbledon.
Now, as he gets ready to kick off the hard-court stretch in Washington, D.C., this week, can he recapture his early-season form and go on to make this a summer to remember, with the US Open on the horizon?
His play in the first half of 2019 was a continuation of the path he started on last spring on the clay courts, where he reached his first career final in Barcelona, defeating three Top-20 players—including Dominic Thiem—along the way. Rafael Nadal stopped him quite comfortably in the championship match, but Tsitsipas left the tournament with confidence and a place among the world’s Top 50 for the first time.
At the French Open that year, Thiem defeated him in the second round, but at Wimbledon, Tsitsipas reached the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time, falling to John Isner in the round of 16.
Tsitsipas captured last season's NextGen Championships. (Getty Images)
When the tour turned to the hard courts, the Greek advanced to the semifinals in Washington, then made the biggest statement of his burgeoning career a week later by reaching the final at the ATP 1000 event in Canada. Along the way, he defeated four members of the world’s Top 10 along the way, including then-No. 10 Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, the third-ranked player who had just knocked him out of the Washington tournament.
Though he was unable to build upon that momentum at the year’s final major, the US Open, Tsitsipas rebounded from a second-round loss in New York to win his first career title in the fall in Stockholm and close out the season with victory at the NextGen Championships.
Kicking off the new year ranked No. 15 in the world, Tsitsipas wasted no time reaching his next career milestone as he made it to the Australian Open semifinals, topping the two-time defending champion Roger Federer in the fourth round. That showing put him close to the Top 10, a barrier he broke through after a final-round appearance in Dubai.
Over the next several months, Tsitsipas reached four finals, winning two of them: indoors in Marseille and on clay in Estoril. His other runner-up finish came in his second career Masters final in Madrid, where he stopped Nadal in the semifinals.
After a slow grass-court swing, the 20-year-old is back on his best surface. (Getty Images)
After reaching the fourth round of the French Open, the grass wasn’t as kind to the world No. 6, who lost his opening match in two of three tournaments, including Wimbledon, where he fell to Thomas Fabbiano—a year after defeating the Italian in the third round there.
But now, the 20-year-old is back on the hard courts, which truly reward every aspect of his game. His serve, versatility from the back of the court, willingness to go forward and movement are all weapons that rarely gel together in someone so young.
Tsitsipas, the top seed in Washington, kicks off his singles campaign (he and Nick Kyrgios fell in doubles in the first round) against American Tommy Paul, who had a convincing win against his countryman Denis Kudla in round one. The best male player ever from Greece will enter the court with confidence, a trait that has served him well in his young career. He has also demonstrated both a drive to be among the best and maturity on navigating the ebbs and flows of life as a professional.
Tsitsipas has beaten everyone above him in the standings at least once. This summer, he could be poised to leapfrog above them in the rankings to reach even new milestones.