By
Zachary Sniderman
Photography by
Naguel Rivero
Styling by
Mirey Enverova

Grooming by Sumiyo Kyoshima. Photographer’s assistant: Francois Ray. Retouching by Ale Jimenez Studio Image.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS SPEARHEADS A NEW GENERATION OF TENNIS PLAYERS ON AND OFF THE COURT


Usually, there comes a time in the life cycle of a sport when the young eat up the old guard. Hungry for change, they study, reinvent, and move past.

Tennis, however, has lived in a fruitful limbo for quite some time, a clash of generations adapting their games even as the game itself changes. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are all approaching forty years old but they continue to be viable threats in all the major tournaments, barring injury.

The next generation has shown promise but delivered disappointment until recent years. The unpredictable success of players like Grigor Dimitrov and Nick Kyrgios has been bolstered by the more consistent, focused challenge from rising players like Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Borna Coric, and Daniil Medvedev.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, at just twenty years old, is one of the most exciting contenders for the crown of world’s best. Last year, the Greek won the Next Generation ATP Finals, captured his first title at the Stockholm Open, reached the finals of the Canadian Open and the Barcelona Open and the fourth round at Wimbledon, and recorded wins against Djokovic, Zverev, and Thiem.

Tsitsipas, now ranked fifteenth in the world, is a model of tennis’ new metagame. An aggressive baseliner, he is unafraid to move into the court, pouncing on ripe opportunities and confidently playing to his strengths. “I’m a very aggressive player,” he says over the phone during a round of pre-season interviews. “You really don’t want to lose this fire you have inside of you. It inspires me. When I walk out onto court—when I face Djokovic or Nadal—it’s an extra motivation to play well. It’s all about the mentality, making the right choices and not thinking twice.”

Coat by Prada. T-shirt by AMI Alexandre Mattiussi.

Tsitsipas has a strong overall game, but he relishes any chance to let loose his one-handed backhand, a hotly debated groundstroke that sacrifices power for flexibility. “Some people have one and some people are bad at it,” Tsitsipas says of the move. “It can be a rocket. Sometimes you’re just born with it.” From any other player, such comments could read as over-confident, but his perspective is measured. He believes in innate talent but understands it only becomes reality through hard work. He gives himself every chance against the world’s best players but cites approachable goals for himself in 2019 (winning a Masters, reaching the semis of a Slam, and success in the grass season). “I always imagined it would be much more difficult to face that kind of player,” Tsitsipas said of a recent match against Federer, “but doing the right things on the court didn’t seem really difficult to me.”

The son of a former professional player (Julia Apostoli) and tennis coach (Apostolos Tsitsipas, who coaches both Stefanos and his younger brother Petros), tennis runs through Tsitsipas’s bones. Petros is also rising in the ranks and plays for Greece at the Davis Cup.

More so than any other player in his generation, Tsitsipas has taken to social media to broadcast his journey on the ATP Tour and his thoughts about the world at large. It’s a grueling schedule for players on the up-and-up, which can find Tsitsipas serving hard in Shanghai one week and rallying indoors in Stockholm the next. It’s also a changing landscape where a tennis player is both an athlete and, as with all public figures these days, a brand, responsible for his slip-ups and successes both in the game and in his everyday life. “Tennis is now so much about the personality off the court, interviews, being an athlete, and also being a ‘brand,’” he says. “It’s important to showcase your personality and show people who you are and why you are the way you are. The internet allows you to put yourself out there and share experiences, share stories, share yourself, and who you are in this world.”

Tsitsipas seems to be getting better at both aspects of his career, representing the best of himself and racking up impressive wins, including his second appearance at the Australian Open this January, where he is seeded fourteenth and just won his opening match. A hybrid player who’s adapting his technique and approach at a breakneck pace, Tsitsipas is poised to give himself every advantage.

The Australian Open begins today in Melbourne.

Jacket by Dries Van Noten. T-shirt by AMI Alexandre Mattiussi. Ring by Dior Homme.





By
Zachary Sniderman
Photography by
Naguel Rivero
Styling by
Mirey Enverova

Grooming by Sumiyo Kyoshima. Photographer’s assistant: Francois Ray. Retouching by Ale Jimenez Studio Image.

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