Stefanos Tsitsipas, So Near the Greats, but Not One of Them Yet

It is the majors that have eluded Tsitsipas. At 24, he has already been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world and currently sits at No. 5. He enters the Rolex Paris Masters having won two titles this year, in Majorca and in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He was also runner-up in five other tournaments.

While Tsitsipas reached the final at the 2021 French Open, losing to Djokovic, and has reached four major semifinals, including at this year’s Australian Open, he has often faltered when it mattered most. At the United States Open in August, he was upset in the first round by 94th-ranked Daniel Elahi Galan, a match in which he dropped the first two sets 6-0, 6-1.

“I don’t think I have ever played so bad in my career,” Tsitsipas said. “And I know what happened.”

The issue at the Open, Tsitsipas said, was his decision to experiment with new rackets, racket head weight, strings and string tension. The reason was an elbow injury late last year that forced him to retire in the first round of the Paris Masters, pull out midtournament at the ATP Finals and then have surgery after the season. Since then he has been trying to find the right equipment combination that will enhance his game but not hurt his arm.

“The surgery was difficult to come back from, and there was a lot of doubting at the time,” Tsitsipas said. “There are certain decisions and moves that I need to take in order to prevent getting my elbow in that state again. But I should not have so much experimentation going on. It took away a lot of my confidence.”

Tsitsipas is keenly aware that he is one of the best players never to have won a major.

“I know where my tennis is capable of reaching and which zone I can be at,” he said. “I guess I’ll learn from all the mistakes. It was something that I don’t want to replicate again because it was psychological suffering. Those are opportunities that I need to grab.”

Introspection is important to Tsitsipas’s personality. Asked about his favorite philosopher and his preferred quote, Tsitsipas didn’t hesitate.

“I like the Socrates one,” he said. “‘I know only one thing: That I know nothing.’”

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