Tsitsipas finds his footing on grass

 - Reem Abulleil

On the eve of Wimbledon, the Greek star clinches his first title on the surface with success in Mallorca.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Mallorca Championships 2022, final, trophy©Mallorca Championships

Competing the week right before a Grand Slam can sometimes be a risky move; but when you end up walking away with the trophy on the eve of Wimbledon, it can only bolster your confidence heading into one of the biggest fortnights of the season.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Petra Kvitova, Taylor Fritz and Caroline Garcia all scooped up grass-court titles on Saturday before making the trip to SW19, where Wimbledon commenced on Monday.

Never in doubt

For Tsitsipas, his three-set final triumph over Roberto Bautista Agut on the lawns of Mallorca earned him a ninth career title, and first on grass.

The Greek world No.5, who leads the ATP tour with 40 match-wins this season, has under-performed on the surface in the past, despite having a game that seems perfectly suited for it.

He has a big serve, loves to approach the net, and has good feel; it just hadn't come together for him before on grass up until now.

The 2021 Roland-Garros runner-up lost in the Wimbledon first round in three of his four previous appearances at the All England Club but enters this year's edition in high spirits and reinstated belief he could do well on the turf in south-west London.

"If I surprised myself? People kind of doubted that I can play on grass, I think it's fair to say. I never doubted myself," the 23-year-old Tsitsipas told reporters at Wimbledon on Sunday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Mallorca Championships 2022, final©Mallorca Championships

"I said - I insisted, in fact - that I can play on this surface, and it remains one of my favourite surface that tennis has to offer. I was pretty confident about it.

"I guess I proved myself last week that it's not a surface that I don't like. I like playing on grass, probably more than on clay."

Tsitsipas, who opens his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday against Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard, lost his first round against Frances Tiafoe at the Championships 12 months ago in straight sets and admits he wasn't playing the right way on the surface.

He was coming off a final showing at Roland-Garros and didn't make the necessary adjustments to be competitive on grass so soon after his exploits on Parisian clay.

"Last year was difficult for me. I didn't play a single match before Wimbledon on grass. I was trying to play on grass like I did on clay, which was a huge mistake. Technique-wise, tactic-wise, it all fell apart," he confessed.

"For me, it's a new start here at Wimbledon. I see myself a little bit different in terms of how I perceive this surface in particular. The thing that I hope for this year is just get past the first round and see where that leads after."

Sounds like a solid plan!

Back in the winners' circle

Over in Eastbourne, Kvitova claimed her first trophy since Doha 15 months ago with a 6-3, 6-2 success over defending champion Jelena Ostapenko.

The Czech lefty, who now owns 29 career titles, including five on grass, had struggled with injuries all season, which she says sucked the joy out of playing tennis. It's why her success in Eastbourne means a great deal to her ahead of Wimbledon, where she is a two-time champion.

"It's beautiful to have a title," Kvitova told WTA Insider.

"It means something big is coming. It's great preparation having five matches in a row. This is unbelievable for me. This whole year I didn't have that. Hopefully, this is a boost of confidence and good feelings with myself."

Kvitova, who has returned to the top 30 on the back of her title run, begins her quest for a third Wimbledon title against Italian Jasmine Paolini on Tuesday.

Petra Kvitova, Eastbourne 2022, final, trophyCredit: Getty Images for LTA

Fritz on fire

American world No.14 Fritz picked up the third title of his career and second in Eastbourne with a 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(4) victory over his countryman Maxime Cressy.

The 24-year-old blasted 17 aces and dropped just four points behind his first serve throughout the entire match to overcome Cressy, who is a serve-and-volley specialist with a dangerous game on the grass.

“There is something about this place. It is where I won my first title and when I got here on the first day this week, I felt that I was playing so much better than before. This place has a special spot in my heart," Fritz said during the trophy ceremony.

Fritz, who did not get broken throughout the week in Eastbourne, commences his Wimbledon campaign on Tuesday against 20-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Taylor Fritz, Maxime Cressy, Eastbourne 2022, trophyCredit: Getty Images for LTA

"I think I can go really far," Fritz said of his expectations at Wimbledon, where he posted his best result there last year by making the third round.

"I think I have to take it one match at a time .I've been pretty locked in here all week so it's not going to be too tough for me to kind of stay in that mindset, keep taking it how I was taking these matches.

"I'm a huge confidence player so when I'm feeling confident I know that I'm going to go on the court and play well.

"I'm feeling really good about Wimbledon," added the reigning Indian Wells champion.

Taylor Fritz, Eastbourne 2022, finalCredit: Getty Images for LTA

Garcia finds her inner warrior

Former world No.4 Garcia was at her battling best in Bad Homburg last week as she saved match point to take out fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the semi-finals and rallied back from a set and a break down in the final against Bianca Andreescu to clinch the ninth title of her career.

It was Garcia's first singles triumph in three years and it helped her move up 20 spots in the rankings, rising to No.55 on Monday.