Tsitsipas rising fast

After winning Wimbledon in 2017, a hungover Roger Federer told us how to beat him: rush the net.

Enter Stefanos Tsitsipas winning 48 of 68 at the net to beat Federer in Melbourne. Was this a changing of the guard similar to a young Roger’s win over Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001?

There will never be another Roger Federer. But Tsitisipas, 20, might be the closest thing to Federer among the younger generation of players.

He has modeled his game and strokes on Federer. It’s not only the one-hand backhand, which he can roll or slice. It’s also the service motion, aggressive forehand driving through the court, squash shot, footwork attacking short balls, and confidence going into the net to hit winners off either side.

He’s on a Greek Odyssey and we are all Homer.

Tsitsipas has a long way way to go. He hasn’t won many titles, let alone Wimbledon. But his game is well-suited for grass. He can hit 125 mph sliders out wide in the deuce court, and then hard flat aces at sharp angles out wide in the ad court. He loves using his speed and height to charge the net to hit volleys from both sides — a rarity among players of any age. He can also hit backhand slices that can die or skid on grass.

The skills are there. He has a big supportive team from the Mouratouglou Academy in southern France. He’s the eldest son in a big family of parents and kids playing tennis. His box at Wimbledon court 18 felt like a big Greek wedding.

Stefanos now has to go out and do it. Like a young Federer before his titles, Tsitsipas has a tendency to perhaps think too much. He has almost too much talent, making it difficult to choose from a variety of shots and tactics.

But in the long term, this is a good “problem” to have. If he can stay healthy and hungry, almost anything seems possible in tennis. Of all the young players, he’s perhaps the most likely to win Wimbledon someday.

(words and images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media all rights reserved)