October 2, 2020
Stefanos Tsitsipas is feeding off the crowd and playing his best tennis again at a Grand Slam.
It’s so good to see one of our sport’s genuine new superstars adapt to the big stage once more.
‘I see a lot of people cheering for me and that makes me happy,’ Tsitsipas said after beating claycourt specialist Pablo Cuevas 6-1- 6-4- 6-2.
‘I hope the more I proceed, the more support I get.’ You can feel the momentum building.
Imagine the mania surrounding Tsitsipas if he goes on a great run at Wimbledon next year. In that respect, Stefanos still has the potential to be the new Bjorn Borg.
We’d love nothing more than to see the charismatic Tsitsipas shine at Wimbledon 2021.
Talking of charisma, a former Roland Garros champion is also back on song. You can hear it in her fearsome war-cry and confident shot-selection.
Jelena Ostapenko stunned the world when she beat the future Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep in the 2017 French Open final.
Trouble is, Ostapenko hasn’t done very much since, citing injuries and psychological pressures as a hindrance.
But you wouldn’t have known it from the way she took apart number two seed Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-2 early on Thursday.
True, Pliskova’s recent form hasn’t exactly reflected her talent and lofty ranking.
But Ostapenko didn’t give her much opportunity to put that right in Paris.
And interestingly, it wasn’t just Jelena’s trademark big-hitting that got the job done.
As she pointed out later, that’s what opponents expect of her. So she threw in some devastating drop-shots too.
The willowy Pliskova couldn’t handle the new variation and unpredictability in Ostapenko’s game.
And now the dynamic little Latvian must be starting to feel good about her chances again.
And why shouldn’t she feel as confident as anyone else? Last time she got this far at Roland Garros, she took the crown.
There’s nothing like having a Grand Slam title under your belt to give you extra self-belief when you’re back in the groove.
So far Tsitsipas hasn’t been able to achieve that kind of success at a Slam.
He was an Australian Open semi-finalist last year. And he reached round four of Wimbledon when he was far less well-known in 2018.
Sometimes the weight of expectation is tough on Stefanos. We all remember how he felt he’d let his legion of fans down at Wimbledon last year.
But here’s the good news. We’re convinced Tsitsipas is becoming too experienced and too athletic to allow that kind of slip-up at Wimbledon 2021.
The grass could even suit his game massively, once he finds his rhythm. Then just watch the big man fly.
His performance against Cuevas hinted at this. Stefanos often came to the net and dominated.
That Tsitsipas wingspan is frightening. It’s a natural gift that makes him hard to pass.
The statuesque Greek can be a slow starter at Slams. And he had to come from two sets behind in order to register his first victory at this year’s French Open.
But once Stefanos relaxed against Jaume Munar, there was no stopping him.
Round two showed us that the nerves have gone and Tsitsipas is ready to show the fans what he can really do.
The Roland Garros crowd loves him. He loves them back. His relationship with a much larger Wimbledon 2021 crowd will doubtless create a similar dynamic.
The deeper Tsitsipas goes at these next three Slams, the better his chances of making a big impact at Wimbledon 2021.
We truly hope he can do it.
And it would be wonderful to see a feisty character like Ostapenko shine at Wimbledon 2021 too.
Once again, this isn’t as unlikely as some might think. Who gave Simona Halep a chance of winning Wimbledon at the start of last year’s tournament?
After all, she had always struggled to show her best at the All England Club.
By the time she reached the Wimbledon final, however, she had found a new comfort on the beautiful lawns of south-west London.
In fact she played the perfect match to defeat the great Serena Williams and become Wimbledon champion.
Remember how the Wimbledon crowd took Halep to their hearts?
The same could happen to Ostapenko who, like Simona, has the fighting spirit of someone twice her size and a personality to match.
We’ll be watching the progress of Tsitsipas and Ostapenko with increasing fascination at this French Open.
We’ll be enjoying every moment and hoping they continue to find their best tennis.
The more they enjoy big stages like Roland Garros, the more they’ll be ready for Wimbledon 2021 – biggest stage of all.
We’ll hope to see you at the All England Club too. We’re so looking forward to Wimbledon already.