One of the top contenders for the men’s Wimbledon title, Stefanos Tsitsipas, has taken a dig at two-time champion Rafael Nadal, saying the Spanish legend’s “different routines … have cost him his career”.
Greek star Tsitsipas, the world’s fifth-ranked player, is a former finalist at both the Australian Open and Roland Garros. He opened his tournament at Wimbledon on Tuesday morning against Austrian Dominic Thiem, and was down one set to love when rain suspended play. He has previously gone no further than the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Speaking to Greek news site Sports DNA ahead of his match against Thiem, Tsitsipas was asked about the apparent inevitability of another title for reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who’s won the previous two Wimbledon finals.
“As a top five player and title contender, how do you feel when you hear from experts and non-experts that Novak Djokovic has the trophy in his pocket?” journalist Vicky Georgatou asked.
“Somehow he has!” Tsitsipas joked.
“He is stubborn, to me, is the truth. And I want like crazy to be able to win and show that I’m capable of doing something too, but he’s found the secret recipe of how he can be there in every slam, and go deep without any problem against any opponent. It works like clockwork!
“I have observed his routines and seen how professional he is at what he does. It’s completely normal that he’s playing at this level.”
At this point, Tsitsipas volunteered a comparison with Nadal, who recently missed the French Open for the first time in 19 years due to a hip injury.
“I don’t want to say anything bad about Nadal, but he has different routines that have cost him his career with injuries, and I know why these things happen,” Tsitsipas said.
“Novak has avoided it. His diet is the most incredible in tennis, his recovery is the most advanced I have seen.
“So I also take some elements and add them to my own tennis. I think that’s also why he is going so strong at an age where you’d think your level would drop, which is normal.”
A week before Wimbledon, Tsitsipas weighed into the “greatest of all time” debate, saying Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer are all “great” – though he declined to nominate his pick.
“Some people say that numbers matter, grand slam titles. Others, that it is more the number of fans the player has drawn to tennis, that that’s what counts. There are many versions of who is the best. I’ll let people draw their own conclusions.”
Tsitsipas was a victim of Nick Kyrgios last year as the Australian made a stunning run to the Wimbledon final. Asked whether that defeat had given him ammunition for the future, the Greek answered: “Yes, definitely.”
And he proceeded to take a pretty blunt shot at Kyrgios, who pulled out of this year’s tournament a day before his first round match, citing a wrist injury.
“For me, Kyrgios is a good player on grass, although he may not be that professional in some things, like fitness, and we all know that,” said Tsitsipas.
“He has talent, and he plays on a surface where it is not as physically demanding as clay, for example. He gets by. Let’s put it that way.”
He said he had “learned my lesson” and it was his “mistake” to allow Kyrgios to put him in the wrong headspace during their match.
“In the future I know that this will be his main tactic. He said it himself in (the Netflix documentary) Break Point. I look forward to it in our next match. I want to keep playing against players like him, because I think if I can get a win against Kyrgios, Djokovic or Alcaraz, it’s a door that opens for a grand slam title.”
Tsitsipas speaks about new tennis love match
Tsitsipas is not merely known for his talents on court. He is also one half of a famous tennis glamour couple, the other half being Spanish player Paula Badosa, who is also competing at Wimbledon. Badosa, the world number 35, is scheduled to play her first round match against American Alison Riske-Amritraj on Wednesday, weather allowing. Like Tsitsipas, she has previously reached the fourth round.
Far from resenting the attention on the couple, Tsitsipas spoke freely about their relationship in his interview.
“For the last three years I have loved her very much,” he said.
“I saw her for the first time at the Australian Open in 2020, on the TV from my apartment, and I remember her now vividly. It’s not often that I see someone on TV and like their energy so much, without ever having met them.
“With a few ‘hellos’ over the last few years I was given the opportunity to get to know her more and more.”
Their connection grew when he sent her congratulations for a win on tour, having been impressed by her handling of a difficult opponent.
“The truth is, she was a big fan of mine before that and I was (of her) too, for the way she plays, while I also liked her character and her personality. It was a common thing, on both sides,” said Tsitsipas.
“It was meant to happen, there were so many signs. I won’t go into details because it would take me an hour! In a way, I feel like I’m falling in love for the first time in my life. I never expected this to happen, and it gives me a new perspective on life, it makes me a happier person. Whether I win titles or lose, it doesn’t matter to me, I know we are here to create beautiful moments together.
“I will support her as much as I can, along with my tennis. I will be there for her. I love her very much and will continue to love her forever.”
Love isn’t always a bad thing in tennis, it seems. Though Tsitsipas was keen to stress that his relationship was not eroding his ambition.
“Tennis is my daily life, and it’s the only job I have,” he explained.
“So we have also made it clear, Paula and I, that tennis will be our number one goal, and what we do, and we will be here for each other, to support each other and to live a dream together.
“We both want to win a grand slam, and I hope we can do it together soon.”
Theoretically, it could still happen in less than two weeks.