Tsitsipas: “My intentions are not to be loved by everyone”

Stefanos Tsitsipas will not keep very fond memories of this US Open with a loss in the third round and some damages down to his image.

Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open

Stefanos Tsitsipas got into too many fights this summer to be able to hold it together until at least the second week of this US Open. Semi-finalist in Toronto and Cincinnati, he should have landed in New York with confidence and ready to try to clinch his first Grand Slam title.

But instead of this, he got ousted by Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz at the third round, and made the headlines for his new toilet breaks habits and for being accused by Alexander Zverev of getting coached while on those breaks. “That really shows the level of the person that said it”, said Tsitsipas in a clear take at Zverev, adding “it was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my life”.

But now he bows out of the tournament, upset by an 18-year-old wonder already adopted by the entire crowd. Have you said worst-case scenario?

Tsitsipas: “I know all of these things have been against me for no reason”

As defiant as ever on the topic, Tsitsipas rejected the idea that the clear hostility of the crowd through the match had an impact on his performance. He’s not doing anything wrong by taking those breaks and he doesn’t care what people might think of it.

“I’m not pretending that everyone loves me. My intentions are not to be loved by everyone. Every person can choose their favorite player. I felt that way, but I kind of have ignored it because people don’t know, that’s the thing. When people are not really in the sport and don’t know what is happening.

“All these accusations have been completely false. I know all of these things have been against me for no reason. I took my toilet break like a normal athlete. The only thing I did is changing from wet clothes to dry clothes. Apparently, it’s a huge issue.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open © AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

“When no one discusses other things such as players taking more time than they’re allowed to take, that has been an issue for me in the past playing against these players, getting cold, not feeling my game, having to wait for more than 30, 35 seconds in between serves that I had — in one of my matches here I had to wait a very long time between first and second serve. I didn’t complain.

“Then you have these players that everyone knows they’re taking so much time but no one says anything. I don’t know why everyone suddenly is against me, especially when other players don’t follow rules and don’t stick within 25 seconds between play.”

Tsitsipas: “I’ve never seen someone hit the ball so hard”

Since losing the Roland-Garros final, Tsitsipas seems to be angry at everyone and everything when he sets foot on the court. And he has put his focus into this toilet breaks issue, that never came up with him before. There’s no guideline about how to move on from losing a Grand Slam final, but it really seems like Tsitsipas needs to find his way to do it and fast.

He didn’t look like himself this summer, he didn’t look like himself at all in New York and it’s actually not that much of a surprise that, with all this boiling inside, it finally broke down. Even if Alcaraz has something to do with it.

“At the beginning of the first set, he came really strong. Ball speed was incredible. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball so hard. Took time to adjust. Took time to kind of develop my game around his game style. It’s one of these matches where you feel like you’re in control but it doesn’t really go your way at the end.

“I felt like he played the fifth one completely — the way he played the first set basically, careless, going for every single shot. I have never seen someone play such a good fifth set, honestly. It was supposed to be my match. Today was a match that I shouldn’t have lost. I can only learn from it.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open
Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open © AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

It’s hard to believe that Tsitsipas didn’t care about receiving so much hostility this week from the crowd, some other players, and parts of the media: he’s the sensitive kind so… Yes, he’s been within his rights to take those breaks and yes some people went after him with some over-the-top anger, but the question remains: why would he pick the last Grand Slam of the season to engage in what is overall nonsense?

It’s a pity and it has surely cost him a great run here with all the energy wasted and the bad vibes surrounding him. Now, not only he won’t win his first Major this year but he’s going to have to spend more time doing some damage control for his image over something he shouldn’t have had to spend one day on. Overall a rough US Open for the Greek and it’s going to be interesting to see how he bounces back from it for the end of the year.

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