By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, November 14, 2022
Striding onto the Pala Alpitour court, Stefanos Tsitsipas could see the mountain top.
Familiar nemesis Novak Djokovic proceeded to level the landscape.
In a clash of former ATP Finals champions, Djokovic broke in the opening game sweeping Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6(4) to win his Turin opener—and end the Greek’s hopes of rising to year-end No. 1.
World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz is out for the rest of the season recovering from a torn abdominal.
In Alcaraz’s absence Rafael Nadal and Tsitsipas arrived in Turin with a shot to surpass the US Open champion for the year-end top spot.
Tsitsipas needed to run the table, post a 5-0 record and take the title to make history as the first Greek No. 1.
Though that won’t happen this season, Tsitsipas said he deeply believes he will reach the top spot.
“I deeply believe that I can reach that spot one day,” Tsitsipas told the media in Turin. “I’m not really that much in a rush, to be honest. Of course, it would have been better if it happened this week.
“I am more here for the marathon of all. I see the bigger picture, the longer run. I have a lot of opportunities next year to play some good tennis. If it comes, I’ll be very happy, my country will be very happy, my family will be happy.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 14, 2022
The world No. 3 says ascending to the top of tennis is an aspiration not an obsession.
“I just have to concentrate on myself, let that thing pass. If it happens, that’s great news,” Tsitsipas said. “But I shouldn’t be obsessing too much about it. I can be happy without it, but of course I will be slightly more fulfilled if it happens in my career.”
The ATP leader in wins this season with 60, Tsitsipas suffered his ninth straight loss to Djokovic. The seven-time Wimbledon winner improved to 10-2 lifetime against Tsitsipas.
Working with two-time major finalist Mark Philippoussis, Tsitsipas has tried to sharpen his slice backhand and strengthen his return game. While Tsitsipas is eight on the ATP Tour in service games held this season (86 percent), he’s No. 31 in return games won (21 percent).
Trying to adapt to the quicker, lower-bouncing Turin court, Tsitsipas earned just one break point and won only five points on Djokovic’s second serve.
“The court is fast. I can’t deny it. It’s fast,” Tsitsipas said. “But I like it. It helps my serve. It helps my first few shots. I wouldn’t say it was an issue. The issue was starting that first game lousy and not getting into the match, picking up very late. On this kind of court, you want to be zoned in as early as possible.
“I failed to do so in the opening of that match.”
Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty
fbq(‘init’, ‘1846407775622432’); // Insert your pixel ID here.