Stefanos Tsitsipas points accusing finger at tennis chiefs amid injury crisis

Kevin Palmer
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece trains on Day Four of the Mutua Madrid Open 2024 tournament at La Caja Magica
Stefanos Tsitsipas during a practice session

Some of the biggest names in tennis are missing this week’s Italian Open and now world No 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas has accused tennis chiefs of contributing to the injury crisis at the top of the men’s game.

World No 2 Jannik Sinner and No 3 Carlos Alcaraz are both missing from the draw in Rome due to injury and the Madrid Open earlier this month was decimated by injury problems.

That has inspired Tsitsipas to suggest the expanded ATP Masters 1000 tournaments are contributing to the fitness issues for top players, with events that used to be played over a week now extended to 10 and 12 days.

Tennis chiefs will claim this expanded calendar ensures players have more rest days, but the evidence suggests long stays in one location and the practice schedule that is part of the ‘off’ day for the game’s top stars is not helping their fitness levels.

“I think the extension of the days in the Masters 1000s plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured,” said Tsitsipas.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you have to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it. It’s not a very easy thing to do.

“Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.

“If these type of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things (injuries) occurring in the future.”

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Tsitsipas was speaking after his victory against Britain’s Cameron Norrie at the Italian Open.

Norrie, the 27th seed, recovered from a break down in the second set to force a tie-break, but Tsitsipas showed greater patience in the extended rallies and came out on top.

“I had a great start of the match,” reflected Tsitsipas. “It felt like my shots were pressing a lot. My topspin was very heavy.

“At the very beginning of the match, I came in fresh to start opening up the court, hitting big shots. They all seemed to work pretty well entering the court most of the time.

“My serve I think was a big factor to start the match in such way because I came up with some great serves, placing those serves exceptionally well, getting free points here and there on the serve.

“I think you would say clay, well, the reward on your serve is not the biggest one in terms of surface, but I managed to get a few important points with my serve, kind of getting a lead without having to get close in the score.

“The second set was absolutely a battle. He was adjusting. He was trying to find ways to win more points.

“It seemed like he wasn’t able to come up with a certain plan in the first set, but the second was very different in terms of tactics and also applying his own game a little bit more where he started approaching, he started adding a bit more topspin, going through the ball a little bit more than before.

“I had to move a little bit more. I had to work more for the points, which I felt straight away. It absolutely gave me a lot to work with towards the end.”