Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Roger Federer at ATP Finals
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Stefanos Tsitsipas thinks tennis is looking “good” in a post-Big Three era with the level of the younger players. The world No 3 is currently playing in the National Bank Open where, earlier this week, he said a “change of thrones” was happening with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all withdrawing from the tournament. He’s now praised his young counterparts for bringing new personalities to the game.
Tsitsipas said things were “changing” in tennis, with new stars coming to the forefront in the absence of the Big Three.
The Greek became the second-highest seed left in the Toronto tournament after Nadal pulled out ahead of his opening-round encounter with Lloyd Harris.
While Djokovic and Federer withdrew prior to the event, the Spaniard travelled to Canada with the intentions of competing after a return to the tour in Washington last week but has since flown home to consult with his doctor as he battles an ongoing foot injury which kept him out of Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Now, the recent Roland Garros runner-up has expanded on his comments and praised the variety of the younger generation as he believes they can fill the gap left behind by the Big Three when they ultimately retire.
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Speaking on the Match Point Canada podcast, he said: “Well, we have a lot of players and I have clashes with a lot of them and I see them as, you know, potential candidates for Grand Slam finals.
“And I think the sport is looking good, we are all different when it comes to personality and game style. There’s a lot of variety in our game so we differ from each other and that comes from cultural differences, that comes from the things that we have to offer to the sport.”
Tsitsipas is one of many younger players heralded to be the next big thing as the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, as well as Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Juan Martin del Potro all start to play less as they get older.
Alongside the Greek, he and the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev are part of what was once known as the ‘#NextGen’, part of an ATP marketing campaign featuring the top players 21-and-under.
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While all three are now too old to be counted as part of the group, they have previously competed in the Next Gen ATP Finals alongside other big names like Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.
Now, Tsitsipas, Medvedev and Zverev all have titles at ATP Finals and Masters 1000 level to their names, as well as making Grand Slam finals.
Tsitsipas, who turned 23 and reached a career-high ranking this week, added: “I find a lot of the young generation very difficult to play and I also have been part of their improvement over recent years because I played them three, four years ago and I’ve also played them recently so I see how much they have developed from before.
“I find it very challenging when I step out on court to play against them.”
Earlier this week, the new world No 3 told reporters that a change was happening, saying: “So I think there is room for new stars. You know, it’s been a lot about them [Big Three] in recent years, and I think now it’s showing that, you know, things are changing. Things are kind of – we see kind of different generation of players stepping up and showing what they are capable of.
“So it’s interesting to have this kind of variation and change of thrones, let’s call it. It’s interesting for our game.”
The 23-year-old recently made his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros, going two sets up on Djokovic before ultimately losing the match.
He admitted it took “a while” to get over the loss while speaking on Match Point Canada, adding: “It’s difficult to delete that from your memory and not have that be part of your past. It’s tough to swallow but it’s also impossible to change because it’s the outcome of something that happened. The only way is to move forward and let my frustration build into something stronger for next time.”
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