By Richard Pagliaro
Stefanos Tsitsipas reflected on his past and envisioned tennis’ future after capturing his maiden Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo today.
Forty years after his mother, Julia, won a junior title on the same red clay of the Monte-Carlo Country Club, the fourth-seeded Tsitsipas swept former junior rival Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-3 making his mark as the first Greek man to capture a Masters 1000 championship.
Tsitsipas renewed his rivalry with Rublev while avenging his 7-5-in-the-third-set loss to the Russian in the Hamburg final last fall.
“It’s nice that we’re able to be in the same environment now on the ATP Tour together after so many years, starting from the Orange Bowl in 2008 — 2010, ’11,” Tsitsipas said after taking a 4-3 lead in his head-to-head series with Rublev. “It’s been a long journey to be here, to be able to play against each other in a big final like this.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to play each other many more times. I tell you it won’t be easy. It only gets more difficult and more painful.”
Tennis fans have relished the golden era of the sport with rivalries between Big 3 icons Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Tsitsipas says fans can look forward to multiple rivalries emerging among tennis’ top young funs in the near future, including the 2019 ATP Finals champion against Miami Open finalist Jannik Sinner, vs. Acapulco champion Alexander Zverev and former US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini.
“We have a rivalry already. It’s building up,” Tsitsipas said of Rublev. “I don’t know what’s a rivalry, what’s considered a rivalry. What, 30 matches? We’re going to get there for sure if we play against each other so frequently. I don’t see no reason for us not to be there.
“I’m sure I’m going to have not just a rivalry with Andrey. You see back 15 years ago, 10 years ago when Nadal and Federer built one.
“I feel like in our circumstances, the way it’s going to be in this era, there are going to be much more rivalries than just one. It won’t be singular. Me with Zverev, me with Sinner, me with Berrettini. There are going to be a lot of rivalries out there. I think this variety that tennis is going to receive is going to make it really exciting.”
Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters