Stefanos Tsitsipas, a finalist at Roland Garros last year, is one of the most loved and talked about players on the circuit. But he has a secret he rarely talks about
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Greek tennis player with the best ranking ever, attracts the attention of the fans for his long hair and elegant tennis. The results reward him. At 20, in 2019, he triumphed at Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finalsthe tournament scheduled in Milan with the best Under 21s in the world.
The following year he became the youngest champion of the Nitto ATP Finals, an end-of-year event with the eight best of the season, since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001. In 2021, at the age of 22, he hit his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and reached the best ranking of number 3 in the world.
A great travel lover, accustomed to filling his social profiles with self-produced videos and philosophical phrases, he has won eight career titles including two triumphs at the Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo in the last two seasons.
Son of a tennis player, Julia Salnikova, grandson of the soccer goalkeeper of the USSR Olympic national team who won gold at the 1956 Melbourne Games, Tsitsipas said he was inspired by the great champions. He has always dreamed of becoming number 1. For now he is “alone”, so to speak, the youngest of the 29 players who have managed to beat at least once Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer And Novak Djokovic.
Tsitsipas, the near-miss tragedy: “I was afraid of dying”
The Greek is a real fan idol. Yet he has always been introverted. The passion for technology and travel, that pastime that led him to spend hours in his world with his camera and editing programs for his videos, has perhaps isolated him even more.
Once he joined the circuit, he admitted that he tried to make new friends. But the opponents, he said, do not want to open up. “They don’t want to be your friends because they fear you will steal some secrets from them and use it in a match against them” he said.
Tennis is a sport that gets used to loneliness, which makes you think. In some ways it is a mirror of existence that on the pitch reflects moods and sensations, ways of being and seeing the world. The field reveals everything, like a camera.
The game of Tsitsipas, harmonious and spectacular but at times ineffective, suspended between classicism and modernity, muscular strength and heavy thoughts, it tells the story of a player who was precociously ambitious and equally precociously faced with extreme danger.
In fact, in October 2016 Stefanos had gone swimming in Crete with a friend. She had turned 18 just two months earlier. That day of celebration he quickly turned into a nightmare. The current surprised him and his friend. They felt helpless, quickly swept offshore.
Tsitsipas thought he was dying but his father Apostoloswho now leads him as a ubiquitous and controversial coach, has saved both of their lives.
“He was a hero – he said in one of the episodes of his vlog, the video blog. I still remember how much that day changed me psychologically. That day I was afraid of dying ”.