Rafa continues to re-write the history books
It seems like just another day at the office for Rafa, but last week belonged to a certain NextGen star...
A 46th successive set on clay secured an 11th Barcelona Open title, it seems like just another day at the office for Rafael Nadal, but last week belonged to a certain Next Gen star.
“An amazing week comes to an end! These are the moments we all live for!”
That’s an understatement from Athens-based teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Yes, the world No.1 stormed to a 6-2, 6-1 triumph in the silverware showdown, but the 19-year-old is certainly turning heads with his single handed backhand and fluid game.
In Barcelona, he toppled Diego Schwartzman, former champion Dominic Thiem and home charges Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Carreno Busta to reach his maiden ATP final without dropping a set.
His reward is a career-high No.44 in the rankings.
The teenager’s captivating final run in Barcelona meant he was the youngest since Nadal in 2005, but also the first Greek man to reach an ATP title match in 40 years, since Nicholas Kalogeropoulos in 1973.
"I am very proud of myself and also I believe I made my country proud,” said the first ever Greek in the Top 50.
“I feel proud to represent Greek colours around the world,” added the towering teenager on Instagram on Sunday night. “I am sincerely grateful that every day I have the opportunity to make a fresh start, a new step and contribute to the development of tennis in Greece."
You get a sense his fledging career will be defined by the phrase “first Greek’ pretty often.
The 19-year-old, who was an alternate player at the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan back in November, relishes the lifestyle of a tennis player.
“I get to travel the world, discover new cultures, meet new people, learn new ways, and do what I love,” Tsitsipas told ATP following a training block with Andy Murray last Spring. “I get to see and do things I’d never get to do without tennis and otherwise I’d be back home sitting in school! The sport has given me this great opportunity, I will make the most of it.”
The Greek’s positivity knows no bounds and he is an extremely engaging interview.
Away from the court his hobbies include basketball, swimming in the sea and developing his game in Padel.
However, he’s also very active away from the court on social media, with plenty of witty comments.
“I like posting as much as possible about my life and what’s going on around me,” states the tech-savvy Tsitsipas. “I like sharing my thoughts on social media with loyal fans. I think it’s interesting the life of a sportsman, a tennis player.”
The former Junior world No.1 combined with Kenneth Raisma in 2016 to lift the Boys’ Doubles trophy on the green grass at Wimbledon, having navigated past Canadian duo Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov.
With a few more seasons under his belt, could Tsitsipas convert that Major success to the Men’s roll of honour?