Stefanos Tsitsipas knows what it takes to win the Nitto ATP Finals. After claiming the title in London in his 2019 debut, the Greek is looking forward to making new memories in Turin, where his 2021 showing was cut short by an elbow injury.
If the second seed can recapture the year-end title as an undefeated champion, he will finish the season atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.
“I’m actually very determined and extremely privileged to be in a position to be fighting for the World No. 1 spot, because it’s always been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to be crowned World No. 1,” he told ATP Media ahead of the event.
“It would definitely mean a lot. It’s an amazing thing to accomplish something like this. I’m going to try to be relaxed, enjoy the process of it, not think too much of the destination, but the journey is the one that matters the most. In this case, playing good tennis and enjoying myself out on the court is much more important than obsessing over that World No. 1 title, which might come now or come later. It’s more of a marathon than a sprint.”
While the Greek admitted nerves about his opportunity to reach No. 1 contributed to his first-round exit at the US Open — where a title would have lifted him to the top spot — he enters Turin with a fresh mindset, full of confidence after a consistent season in which he captured two titles and won a tour-leading 60 matches.
“I’m feeling very good with my body and my game,” he said. “I’m glad to be here fighting for something prestigious in this type of an event. I’ve earned my spot playing consistent tennis throughout the entire year with good results on pretty much all surfaces. It turned out better than I thought it would, and I’m happy now, sitting in this chair, being part of the eight best players in the world.”
The two-time defending Monte Carlo champion far outpaced his own expectations early in the year as he reached the Australian Open semi-finals just two months after surgery on his dominant elbow.
“I was not thinking of the best things at the time and my mind was very much occupied with how I am going to recover from that, how I’m going to come back stronger,” Tsitsipas explained. “I honestly didn’t have any expectations during the beginning of the year. I thought I’m going to pick up later during the year, perhaps in the middle of the clay-court swing I’m going to start maybe feeling better with my arm. My doctor told me that it might take some time.
“I was able to produce some really good tennis at the first Grand Slam of the year, playing with not that much of an expectation, I would say, when I was out on the court. I kept collecting a lot of points in the beginning of the season, and that kind of gave me a sign, an idea of where I’m standing with my game, that I shouldn’t back off, that this is an opportunity right now that I can actually use.”
Drawn in the loaded Red Group in Turin, where he is joined by former Nitto ATP Finals champions Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, as well as the dangerous Andrey Rublev, Tsitsipas has his work cut out for him at the Pala Alpitour. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s not meant to be easy, is it?” he said with a laugh. “These kinds of events you don’t get very often during the year. It’s the only event of the year that’s so demanding, where the intensity is so high. Regardless of who you’re going to be drawn with, it just simply doesn’t matter. All these players can play, We’re quite even.
“Until we go out on the court, it’s the psychology that you put out there, it’s the hard work that you have to instill to get a good result and [make sure] nothing falls out of place.”
Tsitsipas opens play on Monday evening against Djokovic in a rematch of their thrilling semi-final at the Rolex Paris Masters, a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(4) win for the Serbian which improved his ATP Head2Head record against Tsitsipas to 9-2.