Seven-time Grand Slam champion and Eurosport expert Mats Wilander sat down for an exclusive interview with Tennis365 at the Australian Open in Melbourne, with the first section focusing on Greek superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas after he backed up his win against Roger Federer to move through to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
T365: What does Tsitsipas’s victory over Roger mean for his caeeer?
It means that you can play tennis in 2019, with the same style and tactical mindset as Roger Federer and with the same technique. So, what it means for him is that he will build confidence in not having to go crazy with the style that we might have said was outdated and that only one person could do it – Roger Federer.
T365: So can he kick on from here and a be a serious contender for Grand Slam title?
Now we’ve figured out that’s not true, so for him it’s like ‘oh good, I can come to the net, I can go to the back-hand, I can slice, I can serve and volley – I can play the way I want to play to get to the top of the game and win a slam’, that’s what it means for him.
T365: What level of improvement does he still need to make?
The Federer victory means everything for him. When you are an all-round player, with that much variety, it’s incremental in every department. For Tsitsipas he has it all, with a great mindset, and he would be the easiest player in a way to improve. You don’t know if the other guys will get it, ever.
T365: How much is down to his attitude?
I think, because of his attitude, there are no mountains he can’t climb. He’s climbed the third highest, and beat Djokovic already, so I don’t see anything that’s going to hold him back, because of his mentality.
T365: What does his win against Federer mean to the other young stars hoping to make a breakthrough at the top of the game?
If you look at other young players, like Alex Zverev, it’s not incremental in terms of forehands, backhands and serves, there is a big gap in how he approaches a game tactically and how he plays.
For Denis Shapovalov, it’s not incremental in terms of pace or movement, for him there is a big gap in how you win points playing high-percentage tennis. Now Tsitsipas has shown these young guys can win against the big three.
T365: Tsitsipas backed up his win against Federer with a quarter-final win against Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday. How important was it for him to follow up the biggest win of his career with another victory?
This match should have been an obvious win (for Tsitsipas) but Bautista presented such a different challenge to Roger Federer. He was never going to give him anything.
Even when you lose points to Bautista Agut its not quick, when you win it’s not quick, he’s just an ongoing problem. I think this was a massive match for Tsitsipas, as a young up-and-coming player, he has to beat Buatista Agut.
Nadal, Federer or Djokovic would never have lost to him when they were coming through. This was not Shapovalov losing to Djokovic – this was a guy he had to beat.
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