Roland Garros 2022: Stefanos Tsitsipas, this strange bird

As in politics, the state of grace lasts only a while. For Stefanos Tsitsipas, the honeymoon with the chain is long over. The refreshing guy of 2019, who defeated Roger Federer in Melbourne with scope and individuality, has little in common with the man of 2022. “I want to remind you that I am no longer a NextGen player, I am an adult“, He insisted in October 2020. But among the great Greeks are not unanimous.

Andy Murray, Sasha Zverev, Danilo Medvedev, Novak Djokovic, Corentin Mute or even a French referee: the list of actors who had problems with Tsitsipas grows longer as he gets older. In Barcelona, ​​we thought Carlos Alcaras would complete the cast. After “passing” on the dangerous, the Greek did not look for a young Spaniard, who was waiting for him at the gate.

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And then there was a bathroom break in the middle of the third set, which Alcaras described as a destabilizing maneuver bordering on fair play. Finally, the agreement between them seems to be in good shape, Tsitsipas never ceased to praise the mentality of the new phenomenon of the chain.

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Bad player, arrogant, indulgent or charismatic, interesting and authentic: the whole paradox of Tsitsipas is this split, which seems to divide the followers of the game. According to those who know him best, nothing is lost, nothing is power. “He is not necessarily friends with everyone, not because he does not like people, but because he lives a lot in his inner world.explained Patrick Muratoglu to France Info in 2019. He is different, very often in his corner or with his team. He has a blog, he has an Instagram account and he has a podcast on Facebook. His inner world is rich, unlike many other players who laugh at each other all day, which is also very good, but he is different».

Tsitsipas assumes and asserts this difference. Even if it means regretting the chain, where, despite his status and experience, he seems to find it difficult to find his place. “I was a closed child and did not have many friendshe explained to Noah Rubin in the podcast Behind The Racket. When I started playing on the tour, I thought I could make friends, but it turned out the other way around. Most players are left alone. I feel like players don’t want to be friends because they think someone will take a secret from you to beat you. It seems to me that they are too serious about all this“.

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The ubiquitous family clan

This waste has undoubtedly increased in recent months. The clan system of the Tsitsipas family ended in a negative result: repeated coaching accusations against the Greek were directed at none other than the ubiquitous Apostle Tsitsipas. “At some point, the father has to leaveassessed our columnist Mats Wilander after the Australian Open, marked – again – by a ghostly coach. Let Stefanos figure it out for himself“.

However, between the two, it is a merger of relationships, with its outbursts of anger, but also moments of intense complicity. It also comes from the route of a family that puts everything on the talent of a prodigal son. At the age of 12, Stefanos saw his father quit his job to follow him to tournaments. “I don’t know if he had a choice, but he took a riskhe explained in 2018. He left everything to travel with me. Obviously, I appreciate everything he has done for me, it’s incredible. Not many parents would do this for their son.“.

Since then, the state of Tsitsipasa has apparently strengthened, in particular with the support of Muratoglu and his educational structure. But the father-son relationship remains at the heart of how Tsitsipas operates, a topic often highlighted at his press conferences, where he suggests this particular operation. And sometimes a child really appears on the court in his bubble, as in January last year, when he did not realize that the match against Benoit Par is coming to an end.

Apostolos Tsitipas and Patrick Muratoglu at Roland Garros 2021

Authors: Getty Images

Burnout and philosophy

For me, Tsitsipas is a player who lives in the moment, even if he sometimes keeps his head in the cloudsexplains today Mats Wilander, who was honored with this sequence in Melbourne. I don’t think he even knows how much time he spends in the bathroom, whether it’s two, five, ten or twelve minutes. He doesn’t seem to think so. Sometimes he doesn’t hear the referee’s assessment, so he doesn’t know where he is, which is great, because it all speaks to his state of mind. He just thinks about bouncing the ball, looking for the right tactics for the next ball. Whatever he does, now he does it connected. In tennis, frankly, it is very rare that the score does not dictate your behavior, I would even say that it corresponds to 95% of cases. We play accordingly, of course. So it seems to me that he is in a different state of mind than Rafa or Roger. For Stefanos, it’s more about scoring without a score. And, to be honest, I’m very fond of this way of doing things.“.

So devoted that he sometimes gets lost. For him, defeats hurt more than others. Or at least longer, as if left branded with hot iron. After his failure at the Roland Garros final last year, he experienced a long end to the season, disappointed to see a great start to the year in 2021, and distinguished himself by elbow surgery. Something to immerse him in feelings he thought he had forgotten.

During my first seasons on the track, I was very busyhe explained to Indian Wells. I always taught 100%. And this led to burnout. […] Burnout is easy. Nothing else goes your way. You try very hard, more than before, but there are no positive results. You no longer get any pleasure from it, you no longer get so much pleasure. The game is not the same. Therefore, you should enjoy every little thing positive that makes you want to go on the court. Basically, less waiting and more fun».

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“I don’t want to please everyone”

So, Tsitsipas goes his own way, not every time they follow him. This season, his mysterious messages on camera have further illustrated this bizarre side. “Pink Crab”, “Yellow Submarine”, “Green Parachute”, “Orange Armchair”: no one really understood where the Greek came from. But his uniqueness is also expressed there, such as his Twitter account, where his messages, mixing politics and philosophy, are widely broadcast. Photo, vlog, video: the work of young Stefanos is expressed outside the court.

Like the other champions he fights, Tsitsipas is obsessed with tennis, his results, the footprint he will leave in the history of the game, but to get there, he chose his path. Sure, a little lonely, of course, a little unusual, but in the end terribly authentic. His press conferences are often a privileged moment when none of the answers seem formatted. This is how Stefanos moves, thus dividing Tsitsipas. Under fire from critics at the US Open, the Greek finally summed up what an interesting, almost fascinating bird he is: “I don’t pretend that everyone likes me. I don’t want to please everyone“.

Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome in 2022

Authors: Getty Images

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