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Tsitsipas after upset loss: Pressure not a problem but equipment another matter

Stefanos Tsitsipas denied feeling extra pressure after his exit at Roland-Garros

Stefanos Tsitsipas, 2022 Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland-Garros 2022 © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Coping with the pressure of being the favourite in the bottom half of the draw at Roland-Garros wasn’t an issue for Stefanos Tsitsipas, he said, after being upset by Holger Rune. “Absolutely not,” according to the Greek. 

Rather, Tsitsipas suggested an equipment issue which he didn’t elaborate on yet cited more than once in his post match briefing with reporters contributed to a fourth-round defeat against the unseeded but fast rising 19-year-old Dane. 

Tsitsipas : “I don’t want to answer that”

Tsitsipas said : “It’s just that I had a few troubles in practice. Again, back to frustration, back to not understanding certain things and certain patterns that I was trying to impose. 

“You do have this in the back of your head, having kind of changed a little bit of that equipment, playing with something that has helped you a lot last year get to a pretty good result, finals for the first time, it kind of stays back in your head that maybe I shouldn’t have had done that.”

Asked near the end of his session whether he tweaked his racquet or strings, Tsitsipas countered, “I would prefer not to talk about it, please. I don’t want to answer that. Thank you.” Tennis Majors understand that strings are the point.

A good position in the draw

When the pre-tournament draw deposited Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz in the top half, Tsitsipas seemed a very good possibility to make the final in southwest Paris for the second year in succession. 

After all, Djokovic needed to rally from two sets down in the 2021 finale to deprive the powerful, versatile Tsitsipas of a maiden major. And Tsitsipas’ Roland-Garros buildup this season produced a successful title defense in Monte Carlo, semi-final showing in Madrid and final in Rome. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland-Garros 2022
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland-Garros 2022 © AI / Reuters / Panormic

I was struggling a lot the last couple of days in terms of finding my rhythm

Stefanos Tsitsipas

But from the first round, Tsitsipas was below par. 

Rune’s four-set victory came after the world No. 4 had to overturn a two-set deficit against Lorenzo Musetti and overcame Czech qualifier Zdenek Kolar in an intense four sets in round two. 

Musetti’s talent has long been known and Kolar delivered an impressively resilient display, but from Tsitsipas’ perspective, his level was atypical, understandably leading to frustration. 

Points to defend

“I was struggling a lot the last couple of days in terms of finding my rhythm,” Tsitsipas said. “I was very nervous on the court, being frustrated a lot. 

“And I knew I was this way, but I couldn’t stop being like this. Especially when you feel like there have been a few changes in terms of equipment and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t attribute that to the equipment, I wouldn’t put the all of the blame to the equipment because it’s something that I chose for my personal progress and getting better.”

Aside from seemingly leading the way in his half of the draw, only Tsitsipas will know if defending last year’s points played on his mind. He is a deep thinker. 

Tsitsipas can shine on grass

From a micro perspective on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Tsitsipas also felt he was too passive on returns. 

The Australian Open and Roland-Garros have been Tsitsipas’ two most successful majors. Next up is Wimbledon – where he has suffered first round exits the last two editions. 

The earlier than expected loss at Roland-Garros will give him more preparation time on the grass, although that glass-half-full perspective might take a little while to sink in. 

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