-You don’t know!
Flushing Meadows is empty. Stefanos Tsitsipas yells at Apostolos while playing the third set against Borna Coric, for the third round of the US Open 2020. The day Tsitsipas has six match points, the day Apostolos leaves the court. And come back. The day Tsitsipas is eliminated from the US Open.
“It is probably the saddest and at the same time the funniest game I played in my entire career,” tweeted Stefanos Tsitsipas (22 years old). I wanted to return to the tweet but it appears deleted: maybe it was the serious look (own or someone else) that a real player, one who wants to win big tournaments, cannot be flirting on social networks. If you lost, focus, have self-criticism, be hard on yourself. You are a cold chest, a little boy who is not interested in important things.
Or maybe it was a Twitter bug that was removed.
-Stefanos, you beat a player who was 6th in the world (Gilles Simon), are you surprised by what you did? -Asks Jim Courier.
-I do not know. I didn’t expect it to be such an easy match.
The stadium has an audience. It’s the first round of the Australian Open. There are murmurs: Tsitsipas opens her eyes, clenches her teeth and stretches her lips. He realizes that he did not say what he had to say, that the protocol asked him for another kind of words. It is silent, he laughs. The broadcast films Greek flags in Melbourne. There is a 15 second pause.
-Let’s be honest … (the transmission focuses on Apostolos). I think I made a mess … I played a great game from start to finish.
There is a stadium that laughs, that talks to Tsitsipas and to which Tsitsipas listens.
-What am I doing here? I’m leaving … I don’t know what his tactic was (laughs from the stadium). I can go if you want. The last thing I expected is to play at Rod Laver and have everyone laugh at me.
Tsitsipas advances at the Australian Open. He reaches the quarterfinals and plays against Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal, is two sets up and they go to the tiebreak.
There is something difficult to write or talk about the Big 3: they have been in the first level for 15 years, and all of them were said. They were asked, analyzed, understood. So it is a repetition, it is retelling the same story with some changes.
Rafael Nadal is the strongest-minded player on the circuit and not even Federer or Djokovic fans dispute it. Against that Nadal, Tsitsipas won the tiebreak and the next two sets.
– At times, I felt in nirvana. I wasn’t thinking of anything- said Tsitsipas at the press conference.
Tsitsipas lost in straight sets with no chances to Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open semifinals. Medvedev is Tsitsipas’ nemesis, he is his great enemy on the court. In Miami 2019, he yelled Russian trash at him.
With his surfer-hippie-millionaire look, Tsitsipas wins games in Monte-Carlo and signs on camera with out of context phrases: he does not dedicate it to his girlfriend, his father or his country, as most players do. “Live for the moments that make you feel alive”, “Fighting is a lifestyle”, “Aspire to inspire before you expire”, “Witness the game”. And when he beats Rublev, when he wins his first Masters 1000 he writes: “It all starts in Monte-Carlo.”
When someone wins, we are obsessed with their history, understanding how to win. What is the formula. Imitate it.
ESPN Tennis: Hi Stef. Congratulations for the week, for the title. I’m going to ask you something outside of tennis. You spoke, in Australia I think it was, that you reached a state of nirvana during a match. This week you wrote something about breathing. I would like to know what is your relationship with religion, philosophy and if you practice any kind of meditation.
Stefanos Tsitsipas: Religion is something that cost a lot of wars, it is very controversial in many ways. I am a religious boy, I consider myself an orthodox Christian, but I also believe that you can take things from other religions and apply them in your daily life. I realized that each religion has a purpose and a history that people can draw on. I am not an extremist, I was inspired by Buddhism, there are certain values and tools from there that you can grasp and apply in your life. And I’m sure they improve your life, make it happier, more fulfilling. Breathing is something that I have been working on in recent months with my psychologist, I understand breathing as very important. Especially when I’m playing: breathing helps me to control myself, to have complete control of what I’m doing. It’s something I’ve been putting a lot of work on in the last few weeks. And this week more than the previous ones, doing it daily after every game I played. The other thing you said was religion, breathing and … I meditate a little bit sometimes, Kostas Pergantis who is my psychologist, sports advisor, whatever. It helped me a lot, we have been working since I was 12 so we know each other quite well. My dad studied with him at university, they know each other from university. And I think it is very important: When you breathe well, I feel that your game is capable of reaching its maximum. If you can’t breathe and you try to play it is twice as difficult to reach your best performance.