Editor’s observe: This story was first revealed on 18 February 2018
After successful the championship match of the 2018 Subsequent Gen ATP Finals, Stefanos Tsitsipas returned to the gamers’ space and celebrated along with his workforce. Entrance and centre was Apostolos Tsitsipas, the Greek’s father and coach. Their smiles spoke louder than phrases.
Throughout that occasion, the youthful Tsitsipas usually averted placing on his headset to speak to his father, generally leaving Apostolos, who was eager to provide his son recommendation, cracking up. However after the Greek star clinched the trophy and the followers had departed, Stefanos rubbed his father’s cheeks as his means of claiming, “we did it”. Apostolos introduced his son nearer and gave him a kiss.
“I’m studying day-after-day,” Apostolos advised ATPTour.com in 2018. “Hopefully sooner or later I might be a ok coach for my son for his future calls for and his future desires.”
Apostolos has lengthy sacrificed no matter he might to permit his son to pursue these desires. The 53-year-old didn’t play his first tennis event till the age of 23, and he would spend time as a educating skilled in Athens. Stefanos’ mother, Julia Salnikova, cracked the WTA’s Prime 200 in singles and doubles. When Stefanos was 12, somebody wanted to journey with him to tournaments. Apostolos give up his job and have become his son’s full-time coach, whereas Salnikova stayed residence with the remainder of the household.
“I do not know if he had a alternative, however he simply risked it. He simply give up himself and began travelling with me,” Stefanos stated at 2018 Wimbledon. “I do admire what he did for me, as a result of it is wonderful. Not many fathers would do that for his or her son.”
Tsitsipas’ success has validated his father’s sacrifice. When Stefanos received the Subsequent Gen ATP Finals, he was already the No. 15 participant within the FedEx ATP Rankings. One month earlier, he had received his first ATP Tour title on the Stockholm Open. It wasn’t a matter of whether or not Tsitsipas might attain the higher echelons of the game — the Greek was already there.
There was just one query: How excessive might Tsitsipas might climb? Then 20, he admitted that he realized one thing that week on the Fiera Milano.
“I’ve realized that I am a fighter,” Tsitsipas stated. “That I’ve a giant coronary heart.”
Two months later, Tsitsipas made his greatest Grand Slam breakthrough, reaching the semi-finals of the 2019 Australian Open. Throughout that run, he surprised Roger Federer in 4 units. However Rafael Nadal confirmed the Greek wasn’t fairly able to go all the best way, delivering a 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 beatdown that left the Greek struggling for solutions.
“It form of felt like in a means it wasn’t tennis a lot like the opposite matches that I performed,” Tsitsipas stated. “It felt like a distinct dimension of tennis utterly.”
However that was just the start. Tsitsipas beat Nadal for the primary time that 12 months in Madrid, and he cracked the Prime 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Later that 12 months, the Greek star made the leap from #NextGenATP to “Now Gen”, lifting the trophy on the Nitto ATP Finals. The Greek was a longtime star, and his attacking sport was clearly a menace to anybody at any time.
It wasn’t at all times straightforward for Tsitsipas, although. The Greek has confronted setbacks. Within the third spherical of final 12 months’s US Open, he let slip six match factors in opposition to Borna Coric and will solely watch per week later when Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, each of whom he beat en path to the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals title, competed for the trophy.
Tsitsipas has by no means been one to wallow in his sorrows, although. The 6’4” right-hander has at all times managed to be taught from his losses. One month later, he reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros, the place Djokovic wanted 5 units to advance.
“Shedding form of retains you in the identical place, in the identical spot, which is why I hate shedding. In fact, I believe everybody hates shedding. It is bizarre in case you do not hate shedding,” Tsitsipas stated. “However I suppose a loss is an excellent lesson the place life places a cease [to] what you are doing. You’ll be able to mirror on that. You’ll be able to develop. You will get higher.”
In Wednesday’s Australian Open quarter-finals, Tsitsipas as soon as once more misplaced the primary two units in opposition to Rafael Nadal at Melbourne Park. The Spanish legend was pursuing a record-breaking twenty first Grand Slam title. However Tsitsipas didn’t quit. He fought again, and triumphed 3-6, 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4, 7-5 after 4 hours and 5 minutes.
“Moments like this have not occurred loads in my profession, and the truth that I used to be in a position to come again the best way I did and the best way I fought in opposition to such a high, revered participant like Rafa was one thing additional, one thing I’ve by no means felt earlier than,” Tsitsipas stated. “It was a first-timer.”
Tsitsipas had already completed loads throughout his younger profession when he recovered in opposition to Nadal inside Rod Laver Area. It wasn’t the primary time he reached a Grand Slam semi-final, and it wasn’t the Greek’s maiden victory in opposition to Nadal. As an alternative, it felt like Tsitsipas had come full circle. He had received the Subsequent Gen ATP Finals trophy 830 days earlier and stated, “I’m a fighter… I’ve a giant coronary heart.”
Stefanos confirmed it in opposition to Rafa, taking it to some of the battle-tested icons in tennis historical past. It was solely becoming that after the match, Tsitsipas walked over to his father in a second straight out of a film script. A decade in the past, Apostolos give up his job to provide his son something he wanted to pursue his desires. Stefanos continues to make them come true, and he’ll attempt to take one other step on his journey Friday when he performs Daniil Medvedev for a spot in his first Grand Slam remaining.
“To have the ability to simply stroll as much as my workforce and hug them and share that little second of appreciation and solidarity, it was epic,” Tsitsipas stated. “It was all the things I ever dreamed of, and I am glad that I’m the place I’m immediately. There may be clearly mild forward on the finish of the tunnel, and there’s loads extra to go.”