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La résurrection de Stefanos Tsitsipas Jannik Sinner, on top of the world

Stefanos Tsitsipas will start the 2023 ATP season as the fourth player in the world. He owes this spot to his 2022 ending. Despite two titles clinched in April and June, the young Greek player fell down to the seventh spot of the ATP Rankings in August. Nevertheless, from the month of October, he had a string of semi-finals and finals. He ended this season rich in twists and turns at the ATP Finals – where he didn’t manage to defeat Andrey Rublev.

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On several occasions during the 2022 season, Stefanos Tsitsipas held the position of the 3rd player of the world – his career-high ranking. Already reached in 2019, this position seems to be impassable for the 24-year-old player. The opportunities to reach the throne of world tennis occurred but he never managed to take them. Winning the 2022 ATP Finals would have allowed him to become number one in the world. The lowest step of the podium represents the glass ceiling of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

At some tournaments, the Greek seems able to compete with the greatest players. At the Rolex Paris Master, he let no chance to his opponents before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals. During his previous matches, Stefanos Tsitsipas played a flawless tennis. Driven by high-quality serves, he freed his game: uncrossed forehands on the lines, slapped backhands, serve-and-volleys. During that week, he managed to play his best tennis; but that’s not always the case.

Rolex Paris Master : Stefanos Tsitsipas contre Novak Djokovic

The fourth player of the world has the unfortunate habit to miss the biggest events. The most telling example is his performance at the 2022 French Open. Stefanos Tsitsipas had an incredible clay season. He was the first player to win the Monte-Carlo master back-to-back since Rafael Nadal. He reached the quarterfinals in Barcelona, the semi-finals in Madrid and the final in Roma. Because of this series of tournaments, he was one of the main favorites for the Roland Garros title. Against all odds, he lost in the fourth round against Holger Rune (5/7 6/3 3/6 4/6). The last two Grand Slams of the year weren’t more successful for him. He lost in the third round of Wimbledon against Nick Kyrgios (7/6 4/6 3/6 6/7) and in the first round of the US Open (0/6 1/6 6/3 5/7) against Daniel Elahi Galan, then 94th in the world.

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Despite sometimes disappointing performances, Stefanos Tsitsipas remains one of the spear figures of today’s tennis. He owes this status to his fascinating game. He is one of the rare players of the top 20 to play with a one-handed backhand – which appeals to nostalgic fans of an elegant sport. His favorite game patterns unveil an entertaining tennis: constructed-forward points, strings of forehand winners, backhands down the line and serve-and-volleys.

Despite his numerous assets, Stefanos Tsitsipas can’t break through his glass ceiling. The backhand has been considered as his weakness for a long time. Nevertheless, he improved this tool during the second half of the 2022 season. Now, he finds more depth; and holds the long rallies from the back of the court. Another new feature is his slice of attack – inspired of Roger Federer’s one, but with more depth. From a mental point of view, it’s hard to draw conclusions. Stefanos Tsitsipas can be unrattled – as against Novak Djokovic in Paris; but also very emotional – as against Carlos Alcaraz in Barcelona.

In his best days, Stefanos Tsitsipas seems to be able to beat anyone. Nevertheless, to be at the top of his form month after month is unrealistic. To win the most prestigious tournaments, the Greek needs to learn to win when playing badly. He may find this lucidity in 2023.  

Marnie Abbou

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