Holger Rune jumps to Stefanos Tsitsipas’ defence following prize-money accusations

Shahida Jacobs
Stefanos Tsitsipas during a match
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece looks dejected

Holger Rune has hit back at suggestions that Stefanos Tsitsipas only played for prize money during his ill-fated match against the Dane at the ATP Finals.

Barely 48 hours after he lost in straight sets against Jannik Sinner in his opening match of the season-ending tournament, Tsitsipas was back on court on Tuesday afternoon for his second-round robin clash against Rune.

Fifteen minutes to match and with Rune leading 3-1, the Greek called for the ATP trainer and after a brief discussion he decided to retire, much to the frustration of those inside Pala Alpitour as many of the spectators booed.

A lot of tennis fans on social media were also unhappy with Tsitsipas’ decision to play only three games with some suggesting he was only doing it to earn prize money.

Players receive participant fees for every match at the ATP Finals with the money distribution as follows: one match: $162,750, two matches: $244,125, and three matches: $325,500.

One X user posted the following on the social media website: “Shouldn’t Tsitsipas have canceled the match against Holger and given the place to the reserve Hurkacz? Playing 3 games in front of 14,000 spectators… Audience booed – makes more sense now with reflection… 3 games has previously been the limit to receive the prize money…”

However, Rune was having none of it in a reply as he insisted that those in the top eight are always “try to the end”.

“We are not in Stefanos’ body. So we cannot comment on what he should have done,” he wrote. “We are here to fight and win. No one here in the top 8 is a quitter and we will try to the end. If we only thought rationally, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

READ MORE: ‘I would’ve booed too!’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas slammed for retirement by former ATP stars

Tsitsipas, meanwhile, revealed that he struggled with a back injury as he revealed it affected his service movement.

“For me, it’s important to be fit and feel good with my back. The pain was very big,” he said.

“I’ve gone through pain during matches in the past, and I endured pain, but this was clearly too much to handle. I had to take the difficult decision to do what I did.

“I felt it at the second game of the match. I actually felt it in the warm-up with my serve. Warming up on my serve, I felt very irritated and lots of pain hitting me on my back. I kind of knew at that time that I might not be able to go all the way.”