Stefanos Tsitsipas’ mentality and forehand labelled big weapons ahead of Novak Djokovic final

Shahida Jacobs
Stefanos Tsitsipas plays a shot

Stefanos Tsitsipas’ mindset and forehand have proven to be very decisive during his run at the Australian Open and it is likely to be crucial again when he takes on Novak Djokvic in the final at Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

Whereas in the past the Greek would remonstrate with his box when he started losing his way, it has been a calmer and relaxed Tsitsipas during the early months of the 2023 season.

There was potential to unravel during his semi-final win over Karen Khachanov as he served for the match at 5-3 in the third set, but the Russian broke back. He then had two match points in the tie-breaker, but again Khachanov stepped up and took it to a fourth set.

Tsitsipas, though, remained kept and prevailed to secure a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 victory to reach his maiden Australian Open final.

Eurosport analyst Tim Henman believes the world No 4’s mentality has been key so far.

“His mentality is impressive. When things are going well, it’s not complicated, but you can get frustrated when things go wrong and you get distracted,” he told Eurosport.

“We have seen that in the past, with the dialogue between Tsitsipas and his box. At the end of the third set, that was the perfect time for him to get frustrated, but he didn’t.

“That shows the maturity and experience that he has now. He knew he was still in control of the match, coming out early in the fourth set and re-asserted his authority. There was only going to be one winner.”

Tsitsipas added two-time Grand Slam finalist Mark Philippoussis to his coaching set-up last year although his father Apostolos Tsitsipas remains his main mentor.

Former world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander is another who has been impressed with the Greek so far this year following a difficult 2022 that saw him reach only one Grand Slam semi-final.

“His mindset is very positive. The coaching system being relaxed has made it much easier for him. He is in a different state of mind after a tough last year,” the Swede said.

“He is very consistent on tour, just not doing great things in majors. He stepped up and served better. You can see the effects of having another player in his box, Mark Philippoussis, even if he doesn’t serve and volley. It really helps to have him there.”

John McEnroe, though, highlighted his forehand, composure and maturity as reasons why he is in with a chance to not only win a maiden Grand Slam title on Sunday.

There is the added bonus of whoever wins Sunday’s final between Tsitsipas and Djokovic will also replace Carlos Alcaraz at No 1 in the ATP Rankings.

“I thought the forehand was unbelievable, some of the biggest shots I’ve seen, and I’ve watched tennis for a long time,” McEnroe.

“There was one game – at the end of the second set – I’ve never seen a guy hit six or seven winners off the return consistently that hugely and that accurately, but then he choked.

“He got tight when he should have won it in three easy sets. I hand it to him that he re-grouped. He showed a lot of composure and maturity, getting the job done.

“Hats off to both guys. Khachanov has never beaten Tsitsipas, he had lost 20 times in a row to top guys but kept battling. But Stefanos – we have been waiting for his big breakthrough – here is his chance, to win a major and be world No 1.”

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