Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a stiff resistance, from the defending champion Alexander Zverev, to prevail 7-5, 6-1, 6-3, in the quarters, thwarted Rafael Nadal’s challenge to win 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, in the semis, but was comprehensively outmanoeuvred – 6-3, 6-4 – by the world Number one – Novak Djokovic – in the finals of the Madrid Masters.
Federer and Tsitsipas are the last of the Mohicans.
The top fifty professionals in the ATP tour match skill and pit endurance – against each other – almost every other week, but only Roger Federer and Stefanos Tsitsipas bring something unique to the court. In the crowd – full of baseline grinders, baseline retrievers, and even baseline aggressors – Federer and Tsitsipas remain the only aggressive all-court players in the top fifty. They truly are the last of the Mohicans – the dying breed that plays all-court tennis. While the aging Roger continues to showcase the beauty and efficacy of his all-court playing style, young Stefanos is still honing the dying art-form and is tennis’ primary hope to keep it alive after the Maestro fades into the sunset.
Tsitsipas’ game needs to evolve a little more, our expert believes.
Our expert Nathan Wabel feels Tsitsipas has some distance to go before he can turn his talent into purposeful and aggressive point construction while employing his all-court game to dominate rallies and shorten points. He falls too far behind the baseline and then utilizes his athleticism to turn defense into offense rather than dominate the point from the very get-go.
Tsitsipas’ serve abandons him on crucial points because, after the initial racket take-back, he drops the serving elbow way below his shoulder-line. A common technical-flaw, Nathan believes, that results in service breakdowns for even the seasoned pros.
Tsitsipas against Djokovic, moreover, appeared a little slow in recovering after executing shots, and therefore seemed a little behind for the next ball and always on the run. We hope it was because of the grueling quarters and semis and not a habit.
Stefanos Tsitsipas would do better to play with consistent and purposeful aggression.
Against Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, for example, Tsitsipas was all over the court defending, rushing, and playing ferocious tennis from well inside and, as well as, ten feet behind the baseline. Except when he serves-and-volleys or charges the net, his aggression lacks purpose and the shots are bereft of an aim. Stefanos’ aggression, it appears, is a conscious effort to assert his dominance upon realizing, albeit sporadically, that he is not aggressive enough. Stafanos’ aggression doesn’t flow as naturally as Federer’s, but he is as comfortable behind the baseline as at the net. His serve-and-volley technique is not as fluid as Roger’s but enough to keep his opponents guessing and win points. Tsitsipas, however, will need to be consistently aggressive and on the prowl to approach the net, or he risks turning into Dominic Thiem or, even worse, Alexander Zverev. Both Thiem and Zverev love to park themselves 10 feet behind the baseline and never really exploit their power-games to the fullest or enjoy the easy pickings their powerful ground-shots and service can effortlessly afford them.
Tsitsipas game had everything to do with Nadal’s defeat.
Rafael Nadal attributed his loss to his level of play rather than Tsitsipas’ excellent performance.
“Being honest, my feeling is more about me tonight,” the King of Clay commented after the loss.
“He is young, he is improving, and he has good talent, but I don’t see myself losing that match if I play the same level that I played in Barcelona final [in 2018], or in Australia at the beginning of the season.” Nadal further added.
We believe Stefanos Tsitsipas won the match because he played better than Nadal. Stefanos’ variety and sporadic aggression did not allow Nadal the rhythm to execute the Rafa game-plan effectively. Rafa couldn’t play better because Tsitsipas did not allow him to.
Novak Djokovic was the better player in the final.
With his loss to Novak Djokovic in the final of the Madrid Masters, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now 1-1 in the head-to-head record against Novak Djokovic. The first one was on the hard court which suits Tsitsipas’ game a little better than the clay. Stefanos had a difficult quarter and tough semi-final en-route to the final. Novak, on the other hand, enjoyed a free pass to the semi and played a depleted Thiem in the semi-final. We gave Djokovic a slight edge in the final, and he didn’t disappoint. Tsitsipas, we believe, is more talented than Novak Djokovic but lacks the maturity and purpose to beat Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer consistently.