World number five Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-3 to cinch his first Masters 1000 title at the 2021 Monte-Carlo Masters. Currently the youngest player ranking in the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) top ten, Tsitsipas had previously defeated Karatsev, Garin, Fokina and Evans to advance to the final of the prestigious competition.
This victory is all the more notable in the context of the global pandemic. As in the French and Australian Open, players were required to undergo extensive quarantine and testing regiments, and spectatorship, like so many things, was confined to a screen. The sight of empty stadiums no doubt affects the players, who draw energy and vitality from the cheers (or sometimes boos, if one thinks of the likes of the audacious Nick Kyrgios) of the audience. Despite this, the rising tennis star persevered to obtain perhaps his most impressive victory yet.
This win follows a stream of successes for the young player. Tsitsipas also secured a win over Dominic Thiem at the 2019 ATP Finals, which made him the youngest winner of the tournament in eighteen years. Despite playing in a number of Grand Slam tournaments, including reaching the Australian Open semi-final twice (2019 and 2021) and the French Open semi-final once (2020), Tsitsipas has yet to win such a major tournament. After his string of recent successes, he no doubt has his eyes on this prize, and will likely compete in Wimbledon and the US Open later this year.
Tsitstipas was born in 1998 in Athens to Greek and Russian parents, both of whom are familiar with the game. His mother, for example, was a world number one junior who represented the Soviet Union in the Fed/Billie Jean King Cup. Tsitsipas would later follow in her footsteps when he became a world number one junior himself. Both parents, who had met at a tennis tournament, had worked as tennis instructors. The family’s interest in sport is not confined to tennis, however: his grandfather on his mother’s side, Sergei Salnikov, won an Olympic gold medal while playing for the Soviet national football team. It should be noted, as Tsitsipas himself is always careful to do, that his mother’s twin sister, herself a professional tennis player, for financially supporting his junior career. With such a family background, it is no wonder that Tsitsipas grew into the player he is today. The star continues to train at the Tennis Club Glyfada where he had his first formal lessons at the age of six, and his father is his coach. Outside of tennis, his childhood hobbies included football and swimming, and he can speak English, Greek and Russian. Currently, he vlogs his sporting travels to his fans on Youtube, and is focused on promoting tennis in Greece, which is not among the most popular of sports.
Tsitsipas’ junior career arguably peaked when he reached the quarter final of the junior Australian Open semi-finals in 2015, but his doubles win with Estonian player Kenneth Raisma at Wimbledon (the only event offered for juniors) was also a hefty achievement that laid the groundwork for his professional career.
Looking beyond this, Tsitsipas narrowly missed out on victory when fellow rising upstart Alexander Zverev defeated him in the final of the Mexican Open in late March. Earlier this month, Hubert Hurkacz bested the Greek player in the quarter-final of the Miami Open earlier this month. Excitingly, Tsitsipas is currently competing in the Barcelona Open. He defeated Spanish player Munar on his home ground, Minaur, Auger Aliassime and Sinner to advance to the final of the prestigious event. Tsitsipas will face Rafael Nadal in the next few days. Nadal, the so-called ‘King of Clay’, is in formidable shape, having celebrated his 1,000th singles ATP Tour wins earlier this year. While the tennis mogul’s reputation, heightened by his incredible 20 Grand Slam singles titles, makes it tempting to dismiss Tsitsipas as an underdog, he is certainly in with a fighting chance. Indeed, Tsitsipas defeated Nadal in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Australian Open, despite the Spaniard’s early two set lead. Nadal was also defeated by Andrey Rublev at the Monte Carlo Masters, whom Tsitsipas later went on to defeat to secure victory at the championship. The world of tennis (albeit, again, from
While clearly the underdog, the world of tennis (the 100,000 in-person spectators who usually attend the tournament are confined to television coverage) will watch with eager eyes. Evidenced by his performance thus far, Tsitsipas, along with Zverev and Cori Gauff, is one of the most exciting new male players of the game, and fans await his future performances.
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