Martina Navratilova identifies the two big problems for Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas continued his horrible run at the US Open with a second round exit and tennis legend Martina Navratilova suggested two big areas of his game need to be ironed out if he wants to be a contender once again
The Greek star kicked off 2023 in impressive fashion by reaching the Australian Open final, but he has struggled to build on that run in Melbourne and his place in the world’s top ten may soon be under threat unless he finds his form quickly.
Switzerland’s Dominic Stricker had too much for seventh seed Tsitsipas, as the world No 128 stunned two-time Grand Slam finalist with 7-5 6-7 (2) 6-7 (5) 7-6 (6) 6-3 victory to reach the third round.
Stricker is a former French Open junior champion who recently admitted his coach had told him to cut down on chocolate and cookies but it was Tsitsipas who was left feeling sour after a four-hour slog on the Grandstand Court.
“You know, I came out today pretty well today and felt good from the first set,” said Stricker.
“Over four hours it was a tough battle and I’m just super happy right now. I’m going to enjoy the rest of the day and recover tomorrow.
“It’s such a great day for me and such a great win. It gives me a lot of confidence. I believe a lot in me now.”
Remarkably, Stricker could have been on the plane back to Bern last week having faced a match point in the second round of qualifying.
He has now achieved his best result at a Grand Slam, having bettered his run to the second round at Wimbledon earlier this summer.
Tsitsipas served for the match at 5-3 in the fourth set, and the Greek said: “That hasn’t happened to me before. It’s the first time for me.
“Usually I’m much tougher mentally, and I have shown it by coming back. Even though sometimes I get broken serving for the match, let’s say, I still find ways in the tie-break or perhaps in the fifth set. Today was not the case.”
Tsitsipas has a dreadful record at the US Open and has yet to reach the second week in New York in his six appearances as he added: “By no means I’m supposed to put any blame on any people or any members of my team.
“Everything on court is under my control and under my talents, and the way I can play this sport is shown out on the court. If I’m not able to deliver, then I’m not supposed to be doing well.
“That’s what happened this summer. I was not good enough to deliver and score good results. I won’t blame it on anything. It’s just poor performance.
“I have no reason to say anything. It was just pure competition. My opponent showed better tennis than I did. I want to congratulate him.
“I consider myself a good player, and I don’t want to be a person that can be beaten easily or I’m giving my opponents an easy time on the court against me. I try to make it as hard as I can, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I move on with my life.”
The latest setback for Tsitsipas inspired four-time US Open champion Martina Navratilova to suggest he needs to solve two big flaws in his make-up as he looks to bounce back from his New York misery.
“I just keep going to two things,” Navratilova told Sky Sports.
“He doesn’t get enough balls into play. He goes for big returns when he is close to the baseline and most of all, his backhand is too predictable.
“He really does not have an offensive backhand down the line. He goes through the middle of the court and guys are readying it.
“He has got to improve that shot. Technically, he is having real trouble hitting that backhand down the line.”
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