SHARE


Stefanos Tsitsipas battled hard on Sunday against Novak Djokovic in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final. The problem was that Novak Djokovic was just a bit better.

The Greek star praised Djokovic, whom he called a “great champion”, for his performance not just in Rome, but over the past several years.

“He has everything tuned in close to perfection. When it comes to his diet or his everyday life, his tennis, he has everything scheduled out really well,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s like a Formula 1 car: every single small detail can disrupt his rhythm. He makes sure every single thing that he does is reaching as close to perfection as possible.”

With his straight-sets victory at the Foro Italico, Djokovic claimed a record-extending 38th ATP Masters 1000 title.

“In terms of talking about tennis legends and breaking records, when it comes to all these things, I personally think he’s one of the most professional and the best of them all,” Tsitsipas said.

The Greek and Djokovic will next compete at Roland Garros. Last year, the pair clashed in a memorable championship match on the terre battue, with the Serbian rallying from two sets down to lift the trophy.

They both have lost to red-hot Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz this clay-court season. Tsitsipas believes those are the two leading favourites in Paris.

“Right now Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic. They both play great, great tennis. I would put them as favourites,” Tsitsipas said. “Right now I need to improve a few things in my game. I don’t know if I’m going to get there, but I hope I do with my hard work by the time Roland Garros begins.

“I’d love myself to get around with these players and be there with them. But I will really need to put a bit more attention to detail in the next couple of weeks.”

Thirteen-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal is also always among the leading favourites at the clay-court major. But Tsitsipas also belongs in the conversation, as he will climb to second in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin on Monday.

The 23-year-old is 14-2 on clay this season, earning his second Masters 1000 crown at Monte Carlo. Tsitsipas is not getting ahead of himself though, as he prepares to return to the venue where he reached his first major final.

“It’s a marathon that I have to run. Roland Garros is a marathon Grand Slam. Every Grand Slam is a marathon Grand Slam, but specifically Roland Garros,” Tsitsipas said. “It really takes the most out of you spiritually and physically when you’re out on the court. Clay courts [have] this ability to really squeeze every single part of you. You have to leave it, your all, out there.

“I’m ready to get a few days of rest and start practising again to get into that Roland Garros mindset. I enjoy playing in this city. I really hope my tennis allows me to go deep this year.”


LEAVE A REPLY