Challenger #NextGenATP First-Time Winner: Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas capped a perfect week on the clay of Genova, Italy, claiming his maiden ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday.
The 19 year old did not drop a set en route to becoming just the third player from Greece to lift a Challenger trophy. He joins countrymen Konstantinos Economidis and Vasilis Mazarakis.
Tsitsipas' victory marks the 11th time a teenager has tasted victory on the circuit this year and second of the week, following Felix Auger-Aliassime's title in Sevilla on Saturday. He rises to a career-high No. 120 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and moves up 11 spots in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan, to the 16th position.
Tsitsipas blogged about the breakthrough victory and spoke to ATPWorldTour.com...
Congratulations Stefanos on winning your first Challenger title. How did it feel to be standing with the trophy?
It was pretty special and something I've been dreaming about for a long time. It was a relief for me at the end. I was super happy and everyone on my team was happy. I brought a lot of happiness to people who were supporting me, throughout the whole tournament. They gave me a lot of positive energy and that helped a lot.
You did not drop a set this week. What was the key for you?
It was unusual. To not drop a set is rare and difficult to achieve. My serve was working very well throughout the week. I felt very comfortable with it. I was actually not going to play the Challenger, because it was right after the US Open finished and I wanted a rest. The last second I decided to play and it turned out to be a good decision.
You are just the third player from Greece to win a Challenger title. What does that mean to you for your country?
I am very happy to know this fact. And I am 100 per cent sure that it will inspire other kids in my country. It makes me happy, but I am going to keep working and it's not the end of it.
Can't thank enough my parents, siblings and friends for showing support and love. My first @ATPChallenger is dedicated to all of you!— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) September 10, 2017
Having lost two finals in Morocco last year, what did you take from those experiences into Sunday's final in Genova?
It made me stronger for sure. It made me realize my mistakes from those two finals. I was ready for this one in Genova and I was more calm on the court. I handled the situation a bit better.
You've had some great wins and tough losses in the past year. How have you remained confident?
I know where my level is. I know I am one of these good NextGen players who can do well here. I never lost hope. I did have some good wins and tough losses this year, but my family and my team are always encouraging me. It has been working well. They are very supportive. There are a lot of people around me, but I don't feel pressure. It makes you realize how important you are, to have a big team around you and it's something good. I'm lucky to have them.
You are up to No. 120 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Has cracking the Top 100 been a goal for you this year?
Yes, that's right. I set this goal at the beginning of the year. I hope to achieve it and I hope to be competing at the main draw of the Australian Open next year. I'm close and 20 spots is a matter of a few tournaments and some extra concentration. It's motivation for me and my team. It's going to come for sure. One extra push at a time.
How has the recent success of other teenagers, particularly Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev, driven you?
For sure it has. I saw what Shapovalov did a few weeks ago in Montreal and it inspired me so much. It made me realize that nothing is impossible. He's a year younger than me, so it's insane what he did. It makes it even more special.
What were your impressions on the tournament in Genova - the 2014 Challenger of the Year?
It was a very good tournament. I had a lot of positive energy from it. The hotel was really nice and the club was perfect with a really big centre court. It's something rare for a Challenger. I saw it was voted as the best Challenger of the Year. I was playing in front of a lot of people from the beginning of the week. Everything was perfect.
Lastly, what are your goals for the rest of the year?
I would say to win another Challenger. That would bring me closer to my goal of Top 100. I aim for one more Challenger title. I will probably go to China after the [ATP World Tour] tournament in Metz.