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Tsitsipas searching for “the flow” as he chases first Grand Slam title

The Greek says “letting go” is the secret to playing his best tennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas Stefanos Tsitsipas, US Open 2022 | © Zuma / Panoramic

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached seven finals in 2022, winning two of them as he finished in the top 10 for the fourth year in a row, cementing his place as one of the biggest threats to win the sport’s biggest titles.

The Greek has been to one Grand Slam final, the 2021 French Open final, when he was two sets up against Novak Djokovic before going down in five.

With Carlos Alcaraz having hit No 1 at 19, Tsitsipas will be feeling the heat from the younger brigade, including Holger Rune, but the 24-year-old says he has learned how to get the best out of himself on the big occasions; by getting out of his own way.

One of the more thoughtful players on the Tour, Tsitsipas admits he’s been too negative at times. But when he gets it right, like he did in beating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals in Australia in 2021 – two years after being hammered by the same man in the semi-finals – he found the equilibrium he needed to allow himself to play his best.

“After going two sets down, I understood what I was doing wrong,” Tsitsipas said, in an interview with RedBull.com. “I remember coming to an agreement with myself, saying, “OK, you’re going to become patient. You’re going to wait. You’re going to spend every single minute on the court enjoying the play and just make it a fun game. It turned out to be one of the best comebacks in my career so far.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Melbourne, Feb 2021
Tsitsipas celebrates winning his quarter final match against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in 2021

Tsitsipas: “You’re playing with your soul”

Tsitsipas said he felt himself in the zone, the state of mind every player tries to find, when the mind does not get in the body’s way.

“It felt like I was in a cage and someone decided to unlock it. I suddenly felt free. Every decision I went for felt right. It’s what I like to call flow. I was able to reach that flow by decreasing my expectations. It was a pure fight. It was all mental. It was excruciating, physically and mentally – I don’t think I’ve ever played at such high focus levels for so long. Everything felt like it made sense. It’s like a drug when you’re able to experience it – it brings you to another level. You’re not playing with your skill any more, you’re playing with your soul.”

Tsitsipas said he had asked his mental coach how to find that state more regularly. “The answer, surprisingly, is that you just have to let go,” he said. “You can’t think you want to be in the flow state, or you’ll never reach it. It happens gradually, it builds up. It’s a climax you reach when you stop overthinking and just act, using more of your instinct.”

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