WASHINGTON: Stefanos Tsitsipas began a historic hardcourt run at last year’s ATP Washington Open and the 20-year-old Greek star returns this week as the top seed and world number six.
And it might not be too much longer before the devoted video blogger tests his on-camera talents in the acting realm.
Tsitsipas, an Australian Open semi-finalist who crashed out in his first match at Wimbledon earlier this month, will open against US wildcard Tommy Paul in a second-round match Wednesday in the US Open tuneup.
“I’ve matured a lot since last year,” Tsitsipas said. “I found a new challenge on the ATP Tour.
“I was hungry and very excited. I was very hungry to make the transition to the ATP, many chances to play the big guys. That’s what got me so upsized.”
Tsitsipas — seeking a fourth ATP title after wins at Stockholm last October, Marseille in February and Portugal in May — has definitely had big matches against the top stars.
He dropped finals to 18-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal last year in Barcelona and Canada, to 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer in March at Dubai and to world number one Novak Djokovic, a 16-time Grand Slam champion, in May at Madrid.
Tsitsipas reached the 2018 Washington semi-finals before losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev, then the next week became the youngest player to beat four top-10 rivals in an ATP event, reaching the Canadian Open final before losing to Nadal.
The effort lifted him from 32nd to 15th in the ATP rankings and was a sign of things to come, notably a win in the ATP NextGen Finals and the ATP’s Most Improved Player award.
But his big breakthrough came in January at the Australian Open, where he saved all 12 break points he faced to defeat third-ranked Federer in the fourth round on the way to the semi-finals, where he lost to Nadal.
His Wimbledon loss, in five sets to Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, left more time for his video work. Tsitsipas has hired Swedish videographer Hugo Ljungquist to improve his “Greek Abroad” video blogs.
“I decided it was time to step it up,” he said. “For me to be able to do it each season I thought it would be nice to have a videographer travel with me instead of film it myself.”
Stressing “the tennis is the most important,” Tsitsipas added: “I have a lot of aspirations.
“I’m a big fan of Robert De Niro, (Martin) Scorsese, Bradley Cooper and the voice of Morgan Freeman — obviously you’ve got to have his voice.”