The last three men to win the ATP Finals before Stefanos Tsitsipas found the following season a serious struggle. Andy Murray, who claimed the title in 2016, has the excuse of a serious hip injury, one he is still battling to recover from. But 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov is a shadow of the player he was when he won what remains the biggest title of his career, whilst Alexander Zverev, the winner in 2018, accomplished little of note in 2019 and has rediscovered his game only recently.
Tsitsipas had looked to be on a similar path after a lackluster start to the year. He failed to make an impact at the ATP Cup with Greece, before losing in the third round at Melbourne Park and crashing out in his opener at the Rotterdam Open. But he has turned things around at the Open 13 in Marseille. This is his fourth appearance at the event, where he was awarded one of the first wildcards of his career in 2017.
He failed to win on his debut, or indeed on his return in 2018, but the experience of competing on the main tour was clearly valuable for the Greek and when he returned to Marseille in 2019, he did so as a Grand Slam semifinalist. And he proved more than worthy of that title, winning the title without dropping a set to rubberstamp his credentials as one of the leading lights of the NextGen. In 2020, he has once again impressed, again not dropping a set in reaching the final.
But what has allowed the young gun to rally from his poor start to the season? Tsitsipas believes it’s due to the changes he made in his attitude to the game, especially the mental side of it.
“I’m playing every single point like it’s an important one, doesn’t really matter if it’s 15-15, 30-0, it’s the same concentration, the same attention to every small detail” he said, following the win over Vasek Pospisil in the quarterfinals. The world #6 also spoke of not allowing himself to get comfortable and keeping his focus at all times. It’s an attitude he has worked hard to cultivate, with Tsitsipas explaining that he has special practice sessions, where he tries to play with this kind of focus.
When asked what made him change his ways, he replied: “the couple of previous losses that I had, I think it’s good that I understand that (what caused them). I do learn from my losses and some of the losses that I have are very good for me and healthy”.
While earlier in the week Tsitsipas stated that he would visit Olympique Marseille’s football match on Saturday against Nantes, at the press conference following his semifinal win the Greek admitted it would no longer be a possible with a final against Felix Auger-Aliassime to prepare for: “I would love to, but you know I have to be disciplined, keep my schedule, the way I had it so far”.
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