After Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the last 16 of the Miami Open last year it would have been tricky to predict which of the two players would be the first to win a Grand Slam title.
Tsitsipas had already made a Grand Slam final and four other semi-finals, while Alcaraz clearly had enormous potential but had only played five main draws at majors.
A year on and it’s Alcaraz who has a Grand Slam title next to his name following his 2022 US Open win while Tsitsipas’ wait goes on.
But although Alcaraz’s rise may have complicated the Grand Slam chances of many top players, Tsitsipas says he sees it as a positive.
“I believe in the message of ubuntu [a philosophy that supports collectivism over individualism]…by having others be good, [to] sort of witness greatness of others around me, I am also allowing myself to become better too.
“I believe in that message and I think the fact that they’re doing well is benefitting me too and it’s giving me a clear, better view of how I should approach my game.”
Tsitsipas had a fantastic start to 2023, winning all four of his matches at the United Cup and then losing to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open.
The world No. 3 has revealed Indian Wells was a “struggle” due to his injury, but his health has improved since then.
“Everything is getting better and I’m heading toward the right direction,” he said.
“[I hope] to play pain free and just be able to step out there and show something different than Indian Wells because Indian Wells was a big struggle…I hope I get to play with more of an element of fun on the court and not think too much about my arm.
“My health is the most important thing that I could have in tennis. When I’m feeling healthy, everything falls into place nicely. I’m enjoying myself on the court, I’m getting creative, I can mix up my game and I feel like nothing can go wrong. This is what my aim is for this tournament, to just play pain free and see how my arm responds on these next few days.”
Tsitsipas is second seed in Miami, where he has reached at least the fourth round in each of the past three editions.
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Now 24, he has said that he is not as “strict” with himself as he was during his early days on tour.
“I have been very open to being a bit more loose and not so strict with myself the last few years, comparing myself to three or four years ago when I got started,” he said.
“I was extremely disciplined. Not that I’m not now, but I can let go sometimes. For example, I would just spend the entire two weeks sometimes locked inside my room and go nowhere. I do allow myself a little bit more freedom now and I think it has benefitted me a lot and gave me the opportunity to also grow as a person and not be 100 per cent focussed on the tennis every single week.”
Tsitsipas opens against either Richard Gasquet or Christopher O’Connell in Miami.
He can’t meet Alcaraz, who he has an 0-3 record against, until the final.
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