November 11, 2019
Stefanos Tsitsipas conjured his first win over Daniil Medvedev as the shocks kept coming in London.
As if it wasn’t surprising enough that Dominic Thiem beat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-5 on the first night, Tsitsipas produced a performance few would have predicted the very next day.
No wonder Stefanos called his 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 triumph one of the ‘toughest’ of his career. The Greek had lost his last five to the Russian.
But Tsitsipas and his love affair with London can now really start to flourish.
He claimed he stayed in bed for a week after falling at the first hurdle at Wimbledon in the summer.
That’s how much he wants to make a big impression in Britain.
And the good news is the manner in which Tsitsipas managed to undo Medvedev.
Twenty-five visits to the net and twenty-one successes. That augurs well for Wimbledon 2020.
If Stef can replicate that kind of strength and versatility next summer on grass, he looks destined to go deep at Wimbledon.
Tsitsipas seemed to know just when to duke it out back on the baseline and when to make his big move to the net.
Nothing was forced. Everything was beautifully natural.
So it was when he won a tense rally at 5-5 in the first-set tie-break and found the perfect deep volley.
Tsitsipas never looked back. He broke late in the second set and withstood serious pressure to close out the match.
Formidable serving with all the angles. Sublime volleys and fearsome smashes.
The way he celebrated, you might have thought he had won the ATP Tour Finals already.
But you could understand the intensity of his joy. Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev have been criticised at times as the glamour-boys who can’t do it at the biggest events.
Zverev won here late last year to make people sit up and think.
But it didn’t signal the huge breakthrough we all wanted to see against the biggest names in the four Grand Slams.
Medvedev was hailed as the more ruthless youngster and the one most likely to win a Slam after that extraordinary US Open final against Rafael Nadal.
Now Tsitsipas has sent the tennis world a message of his own. As many of us knew already, he is not just a pretty face. He is a young man on a mission.
He has the talent to take a Grand Slam event by storm when his time comes. And Wimbledon increasingly suits his style.
This was Stefanos refusing to rest on his laurels. Making sure he becomes a better player.
‘Keep loving, keep fighting,’ he wrote on the camera during his victory celebrations.
He might have added ‘keep evolving’ too.
Make no mistake, this was a truly exciting development in the Tsitsipas career.
Last summer we predicted Stef-Mania if he could get a run going at Wimbledon, to evoke memories of the clamour that used to surround Bjorn Borg.
Maybe we just predicted that a year too early. Maybe Wimbledon 2020 is the year.
The Greek community in London will be there at Wimbledon in force once again, in a few months’ time.
British tennis fans, in general, will be willing this charming young man to find his feet and go deep at Wimbledon this time around.
Tsitsipas has been a superstar in the making for some time now.
But maybe we have just seen evidence that he is becoming an even bigger star where it really matters – on the tennis court.
Well done Stef!