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Tsitsipas: Getting Ass Kicked Vital Lesson in Major Quest

By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, January 30, 2023

Novak Djokovic shattered Stefanos Tsitsipas' major dream again—and inspired the Greek's Grand Slam commitment in the process.

In a historic Australian Open final with the world No. 1 ranking on the line, Djokovic outclassed Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) collecting his record-extending 10th AO title and record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam crown.

More: Djokovic Sweeps to 10th AO Title

It's Tsitsipas' second major final setback at the hands of Djokovic. In the 2021 Roland Garros final, Tsitsipas held a two-set lead before Djokovic stormed back to pull off a five-set comeback.

Tennis Express

After suffering his 10th consecutive defeat to Djokovic, a philosophical Tsitsipas said he believes these cumulative shellackings will make him stronger in the long run.

Standing within hugging distance of the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, Stefanos Tsitsipas saw his face reflected in the AO championship trophy and reflected on what he say. Major setbacks are the seeds that will ultimately lead to his growth to a maiden major, Tsitsipas said.

"Novak is a player that pushes you to your limits. I don't see this as a curse," Tsitsipas said. "I don't see this as something, like, annoying. This is very good for the sport, to have competitors like him, to have champions like him.

"He's very important for us that want to get to his point one day. Getting our asses kicked is for sure a very good lesson every single time."

The 11-year age gap between the 35-year-old Djokovic and 24-year-old Tsitsipas was the largest in an AO men's final in Open Era history. Tsitsipas said these experiences of facing a GOAT-level champion reinforce the work and dedication required to master a major.

"He has made me a much better player," Tsitsipas said. "He has made my levels of concentration higher and higher every single time I get to play him. You have to be really involved and you have to be dedicated to the game when you play against him.

"I find it a very important part of my career, to have a player like him that will help me grow better and do bigger things, speaking for my game."

Djokovic dispensed a lesson in the art of the comeback defeating Tsitsipas on the red clay of Roland Garros and set an example of how to stretch a lead saving a set point in the second set en route to his 28th straight Melbourne Park victory.

What will Tsitsipas learn from those lessons and how can the two-time Monte-Carlo champion apply them moving forward?

The commitment to the cause remains unwavering says Tsitsipas: Reach world No. 1 and win a Grand Slam title.

"I want to max out in what I do in my profession. No. 1 is on my mind," Tsitsipas said. "It doesn't come easy, I know that. I got to work harder to make that happen.

"Today was my opportunity to be a world No. 1. I had a better opponent on the other side of the net who did things much better than me. He deserves that spot currently."

Tsitsipas, who led the ATP in won-loss record last season with a 61-24 mark, believe he's born with championship DNA and his best tennis is ahead.

"I am born a champion. I can feel it in my blood," Tsitsipas said. "I can feel it as a competitive kid that I was when I was young. It's something that is within me.

"I want to harvest that, make it bloom, make it even stronger and fonder, work hard towards those goals. It's that beautiful number, the number '1', that will make things extremely emotional when converting that."

Photo credit: Andy Cheung/Getty Images