Stefanos Tsitsipas is currently the man of the moment in men’s tennis after capturing the ATP Finals trophy to cap off 2019. If 2018 was the year the Greek No. 1 announced himself on tour, 2019 has surely made him a strong contender for every tournament he enters. He ends the year as the World No. 6 and is the youngest top 10 player as of now.
Stefanos Tsitsipas in 2019
Titles: 3 (Nitto ATP Finals, Marseille Open, Estoril Open)
Notable Victories in 2019
1. ATP Finals Championship Match (def. Dominic Thiem 6-7 6-2 7-6)
This win sent warning signs to the established order of men’s tennis that a new strong contender has arrived. The story of the tournament, from the perspective of the Greek, was his ability to bring out his best tennis even when facing a break point. He was a break up in the third set, which was snatched away. He was 4-1 up in the deciding set tiebreaker only to find it level at 4-4. But the Greek sensation never stopped believing and never went into a defensive shell. Mixing it up with regular forays to the net, Tsitsipas surprisingly recaptured his best form at the O2 Arena and was deservedly crowned the champion.
2. Australian Open 4th Round (def. Roger Federer 6-7 7-6 7-5 7-6)
If his year came to a dream end, his 2019 started similarly. The Greek pulled off a major upset of Federer at the Australian Open. Saving all 12 break points faced, Tsitsipas played with extreme freedom throughout the match and the tournament as well. His victory against the Swiss also made everyone take note of the new kid and that his Canadian Masters 1000 final appearance in 2018 was anything but a one-off occurrence.
3. Madrid Open Semifinal (def. Rafael Nadal 6-4 2-6 6-3)
If Stefanos Tsitsipas looks back and ranks his victories in order of importance, he’d probably rank the Madrid win over Nadal quite high. Even though the Greek had a 3-1 win-loss record against him in 2019, this victory gave him the much-needed belief that if he sticks to his aggressive brand of game, he can prevail even against a player who plays the most disruptive style of tennis against a single-handed backhand.
4. Shanghai Open Quarterfinal (def. Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-5 6-3)
Even though Tsitsipas’ backhand can still scarily be more lethal, it was still good enough when the pair met on the fast hard courts of Shanghai. Three competitive sets of tennis later, Tsitsipas deservedly emerged victorious and probably turned his season around after a dismal North American hard-court swing.
Lows of 2019
1. First Round Exits at Wimbledon and US Open
Post French Open until the US Open was an extremely challenging phase for Tsitsipas’ career. It was almost as if he never recovered from the heartbreaking loss to Stan Wawrinka at the French Open (6-7 7-5 4-6 6-3 6-8). Apart from a semifinal appearance in Washington, the Greek had no momentum whatsoever after the US Open, which makes his ATP Finals triumph even more unreal. At SW19, he lost to Thomas Fabbiano in five sets. In New York, he bowed out to Andrey Rublev in four highly entertaining sets.
2. Loss to Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open 2019 (6-2 6-4 6-0)
It’s a bit tough to call anything associated with Tsitsipas’ maiden Grand Slam semifinal appearance disappointing, but his loss to Nadal was surely a letdown for many. With so much limelight now following the Greek, the showdown was highly anticipated. However, a highly aggressive Spaniard never lost control of the match, eventually handing a bagel to the Greek in the third and final set. A one-sided victory such as that can have strong mental effects in a rivalry and if the Greek’s press conference afterwards was anything to go by, it sure did. He cut a forlorn figure in the presser and his disappointment was evident. For the sake of men’s tennis, Tsitsipas didn’t give up on himself and avenged his loss in Madrid.
Stefanos Tsitsipas 2020 Outlook
2019 encompassed a year of astounding highs and some devastating lows for the Greek. It’s how he bounced back to recover his best tennis is what’s most commendable about Stefanos. The Greek sounded extremely optimistic about his 2020 chances and seems capable to churn out consistent results.
After the Australian Open, Tsitsipas found himself in the spotlight much too often. That same spotlight was snatched away by the likes of Daniil Medvedev as Tsitsipas’ game failed to deliver far too often. Entering Melbourne next year, the spotlight once again rests firmly on the Greek to deliver.
Every year many envision a new Grand Slam winner apart from the Big Three and Stefanos Tsitsipas is one of the players many hope will break the hegemony come 2020.