Stefanos Tsitsipas explains his secret behind recent success as he eyes French Open glory

Stefanos Tsitsipas delighted

Stefanos Tsitsipas has found the recipe for success in 2021 as he bids for a first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

The 22-year-old Greek has won 33 matches already this year to put him top of the annual standings, collecting a first Masters title in Monte Carlo and another trophy in Lyon last week.

His record would be even more impressive but for agonising losses to Rafael Nadal in Barcelona and Novak Djokovic in Rome, while he defeated the Spaniard from two sets down to reach a second successive grand slam semi-final at the Australian Open in February.

“Consistency has been always at the top of my priorities as a player, and it has been difficult to find that kind of secret recipe where you get all the consistency and you can play consistently week by week,” said Tsitsipas.

“But I think it’s something you build up with confidence, with experience, and eventually you just find the pattern. You find the way it works for you.

“I’m quite happy with the way I’m progressing, the way I’m generating points, the way I’m able to face the guys at the top of the rankings. And so far I’m at the top of the race to Turin. It feels great to be there and I wish for plenty more to come.”

Tsitsipas said his goal is to be the surprise of the tournament but it would not be a shock at all if he reached a first grand slam final, especially given Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer are all in the opposite half of the draw.

“Finally, for once,” said the Greek with a smile.

The other leading seeds in the bottom half are US Open champion and two-time former French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, US Open finalist Alexander Zverev and world number two Daniil Medvedev.

Thiem is the man with the clay-court pedigree but the Austrian has been struggling for form this season and took a six-week break in March and April to step away from the demands of the tour and bubble life.

He was content with his performances in Madrid and Rome but suffered a dispiriting loss to Cameron Norrie in Lyon last week.

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Any positive thoughts about the draw have therefore been severely tempered, with Thiem, who has a tricky opener against Spaniard Pablo Andujar, saying: “Maybe two, three years ago I would have been happy but I think the way I’m coming into the tournament, the way I also played the last weeks, the only thing I can focus on is the first rounds.

“I shouldn’t focus at all on who is in my quarter or even who is in my half. I definitely need to play better than I did last week in Lyon. I’m practising and working hard to give myself a chance to play well at least. I hope I can do that in the match.

“It’s definitely a little advantage for me, as I’m sometimes a little slow starter, that I have at least three sets instead of two.”

Medvedev’s elevation above Nadal to world No 2 means he is seeded ahead of the 13-time champion despite never having won a match at Roland Garros.

The Russian, who reached his second slam final in Melbourne, has made no secret of his dislike of clay but so far has found conditions in Paris to his liking.

“If they would have some special rules, for sure I would be seeded less high, but, if we take the rankings, I’m number two so I have to be seeded number two,” said Medvedev, who has a crowd-pleasing first-round draw against the unpredictable Alexander Bublik.

“It helps me. Even if we don’t talk about me making it to the semis yet, I feel really great with the conditions here and I feel like I can play (like I do) on hard courts, and that’s the most important thing.”

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