Four down, maybe one to go. That's how Stefanos Tsitsipas must currently see the top ten at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The Greek teen has beaten four straight top ten opponents to reach the final and maybe have to go through one more to hoist his first Masters 1000 trophy.
After his dramatic semifinal victory, Tsitsipas spoke to the media about how he is feeling at the moment. His comments are best appreciated in their exact context.
Q. Four top 10 wins this week and potentially one more could happen. Does it feel like you're living a dream at the moment?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: No, not at all (laughing). Sorry. I'm sarcastic.
Well, yeah, I'm living the dream. I'm playing amazing. I'm enjoying it more than ever out on the court with the crowd. It's been the key factor. They have helped me so much to win all those matches. It feels like I'm playing Davis Cup and everyone is backing me up and they're so supportive.
But let's get to the -- but, yeah, four wins against top 10 players. I would never imagined that I could pull this out in a single tournament. It's just -- it's not -- we're not used to that.
And I don't know if I got lucky with all those players, but somehow it happened that I played four top 10 and managed to beat them, which is a huge achievement for me and for my game this week.
Q. You mentioned that belief was what was your strength in your game and that you believed in your yourself. How much of your belief today when you were playing those points where you were down or that they were so significant, in fact, in winning the match came into believing in yourself?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: My serve. My serve. I managed to save so many break points today. He had so many break points. I don't remember exactly how many, but I remember I had to save a few of them.
And I think he never did made the return on my serve. And psychologically I think it kind of annoyed him that he knew that he couldn't start a really whenever he had the chance.
So I guess I found solutions on his serve. And then he got tired because he understood I could add more variety on my serve, and he was basically doing one thing every single time.
And on the tie-break where I stood -- I mean, I returned from far away, I gave -- took a little more time on the return to get into the point.
And he was standing, taking my serves early. And I could see that he couldn't -- yeah, he couldn't -- he didn't feel comfortable winning points on my serve on the tie-break. So that was very important for the psychology of the game.
Q. Do you feel you're playing your best tennis on the biggest points when it matters the most?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yes. I'm aggressive, and I'm aggressive with security, I would say. So I'm secure and I'm aggressive at the same time.
And it feels like I'm never losing it. I'm always there. It doesn't matter what the score. I'm always going to attack. I'm always going to go to the ball, maybe even approach after my shot.
And I feel like my forehand is on fire at this moment. Hopefully it can remain like this tomorrow because it will be super important for me, the win tomorrow.
So, yeah, that's one of the things psychologically that I feel a difference with my forehand and my serve. I feel like I can do anything with those two shots. And my backhand, of course, the down-the-line backhand, change directions, make the opponent guess of where I'm going to play.
So there's a lot of variety in my game and my opponents never know what to expect from me.
Q. How exhausted were you by the end of that match? Because you're not accustomed to playing four or five matches in one week, and there were times in that match where you seemed to be gasping.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I was exhausted before that match already (smiling). I think you could see that from my face when I was playing the match.
I was pretty calm. No expectations again. I mean, every single match is low expectations. So, yeah, pretty calm.
I hoped that, you know, things would go my way, but it was exhausting. Another match, two and a half hours, I think. It's amazing what I can -- how much physically I can stand this. It's not easy at all.
My body is pretty tight. I got some physio treatment before, but still I feel a bit -- you know, my muscles are sore.
So last match is tomorrow. I'm going to give 100% on the court. It doesn't matter if I'm going to die or -- (smiling). I'm just going to give it my best shot.
Q. I just wanted to ask you in the third set tie-break it looked like you wanted to challenge another point but you were out of challenges.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Oh, yeah.
Q. You were only left with one challenge very early when it was 1-2 in the third set. Have you talked about some strategy with respect to using challenges with your team or what can you say about what you might want to do better next time?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Well, it's all my dad's fault. He told me to challenge on those two serves I hit. So I went for it and, unfortunately, both of them were out. So it's his fault, not my fault. I'm probably going to switch my coach next time, a coach with better eyes. (Smiling.)
Q. You were talking about you beat four of the top ten players in the world just in this tournament alone. Postgame you're kind of saying that everything has been going so fast for you. How are you going to mentally prepare for tomorrow's final?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Just another day at the office. Doesn't matter. It's a final. I will not see it as a final. I will just think of it as just another match here in Toronto in a beautiful city.
I'm doing my routines every single day. So just one more day, the last day.
So, yeah, I should give it my -- as I said, my best shot and go for it 100% and see what happens.
Q. We noticed you were standing back to return some of those serves and get them back.Naturally we were reminded of the way Rafa does it. He did it at the US Open and he often does that. I was wondering do you watch Rafa and other guys in the top four, and do you try to incorporate things that you see them doing into your game and maybe which of them do you learn the most from or have you learned the most from?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yes, I am. I'm learning a lot from Roger [Federer], from Rafa [Nadal], from Novak [Djokovic], from big servers. Trying to combine all that into one thing. I think it's good to do that.
Q. The message you wrote on the camera after the match "It never gets easier. You just get better," can you explain that?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yeah. It all comes with hard work, sacrifices that I did in my life.
And, yeah, it never gets easier. Every single year it feels like I'm getting better. So that was the message that I gave to the people that were watching because that's what I felt at this moment. And it was in my head when I won that match, so that's why I wrote it.
Q. What have you learned about yourself this week?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: That I'm capable of doing anything on the court, beating any opponent.
Q. Taking down the opponents that you have in this tournament, was there any point in any of those matches where you realized that, Hey, I can compete with the best in the world? And when did you kind of realize that maybe you can go all the way to the final here?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I can probably say my match with Dominic Thiem helped me a lot to understand that. You know, I had a negative record against him before playing him this week. I think it's still negative but, you know, I beat him on clay. I managed to beat him on hard again. I never beat him before on hard. He beat me twice in Doha and Indian Wells. So it was pretty tough for me to accept this.
So I really went for it this time. And it made me realize that I feel -- I can play good on all the surfaces and that I am able -- if I'm on my best, I can beat any player.
Because, I mean, simply because I feel that all of my shots are big weapons. And it's tough to find, I would say, I can say, players with so much confidence in their shots. And I feel like I'm playing pretty good and I feel better than ever.
Q. In the third set tie-break you had two match points. On the first you double-faulted and then Kevin hit a winner. Did you think, Oh, man, yesterday it went my way and maybe tonight it won't?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I thought about it. I did think about it. If I tell you something now, you won't believe it.
But it was 6-4 when I double-faulted, right? In my head, it was 5-3.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yeah. I realized that it was 6-4 when I double-faulted. And somehow I looked on the scoreboard and then I understood, Oh, s***. It was 6-5. It was match point.
But it happens very often, actually. One of the times that I remember happening, the same thing happened to me, was playing Barcelona this year, beating Dominic in the quarters, I think.
And then after the match, of course, I looked at the scoreboard and I saw 6-3, 6-2, which was pretty impressive. Yeah, he's a good clay court player. And I didn't even realize it was that easy, only after the match. I was so concentrated on that match that I didn't even know what the score was.
So let's get back to the question. It was, yeah, 6-4, and it was very confusing at that moment.
Q. When you hit your backhand winner, you knew you were down match point, yes?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Which backhand winner? Double fault you mean?
Q. When you match point against you, you hit a backhand winner. You were aware that it was match point?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Oh, yeah, that's right.
Q. It wasn't a backhand like another. You knew you were down match point.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: It was match point, right?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Oh, s***. Yeah, it takes guts to make this shot. I mean, yeah.
To be honest with you, I don't even know if I was aware of the match point.
No. I was very concentrated. And sometimes when you're too much concentrated, you lose -- you kind of lose the reality of what's happening.
So, yeah, I guess. Yeah. I'm used to that. Don't worry. It's not the first time. So you'll get things like this from me many more times.