Stef: Novak Dominance 'Not A Curse'
Defeated but not downbeat, Stefanos Tsitsipas was eager to take the positives from his Australian Open run after losing to Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.
The Greek, who would have climbed to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with victory, produced a series of impressive performances in Melbourne, leaving him confident that a maiden major title and the No. 1 ranking are close.
“I'm just happy that I'm in another Grand Slam final. Of course, I was dreaming about the trophy, lifting that trophy. I even dreamt it last night in my sleep. The desire is really there. I really, really want it badly,” said Tsitsipas, who lost to Djokovic in his first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in 2021. “But just dreaming about it won't make it happen. You got to act. You got to do something out there. You got to be present even more and do better.
“[It is] definitely much better playing finals than being stuck behind in the semi-finals. I'll take that for sure. I just need to take that one more step where I can consistently lift trophies and win Slams and Masters 1000 events.”
Djokovic and Tsitsipas entered their 13th ATP Head2Head meeting knowing victory would take them atop of men’s tennis’ mountain. Up to a joint career-high No. 3 following his 11th defeat against Djokovic, Tsitsipas revealed reaching No. 1 is a major goal.
Having fallen in the third round in Indian Wells and the fourth round in Miami last year, the Greek will have the opportunity to climb to the top before he defends his Monte Carlo crown in April.
“I want to max out in what I do in my profession. No. 1 is on my mind,” Tsitsipas said. “It doesn't come easy, I know that. I got to work harder to make that happen. Today was my opportunity to be a World No. 1. I had a better opponent on the other side of the net who did things much better than me. He deserves that spot currently.
“I am born a champion. I can feel it in my blood. I can feel it as a competitive kid that I was when I was young. It's something that is within me. I want to harvest that, make it bloom, make it even stronger and fonder, work hard towards those goals.
”It's that beautiful number, the number '1', that will make things extremely emotional when converting that.”
Tsitsipas arrived in Melbourne having advanced to the semi-finals on three previous occasions at the hard-court major. Two weeks later and the 24-year-old has added a final appearance to his Australian Open CV.
While he is pleased with his progress, the Greek is hungry for more.
“There are definitely things that I can improve and get better at, given the circumstances today. But I don't think there's any reason for me to be affected by today's loss,” Tsitsipas said. “It is a step forward. I'm looking forward to scoring more points during this season, making bigger results, fighting for bigger trophies.
“I very much enjoy the way I play, my attitude on the court, my mental stability, my concentration levels. There's still a little bit more to add to the whole structure of my game. I couldn't be more excited to be heading towards that path.”
Despite falling short, Tsitsipas produced a strong performance against Djokovic. He fired 40 winners and had the opportunity to win the second set, squandering one set point on the Serbian’s serve at 4-5.
Tsitsipas praised the impact Djokovic has had on him when he reflected on his display.
“I did everything possible in order to get a good match against him. My team is working exceptionally to give me the best way that I can approach this, especially today. There is nothing that I didn't use in my advantage,” Tsitsipas said. “There's nothing that I could have extracted more for today. I did everything possible.
“Novak is a player that pushes you to your limits. I don't see this as a curse. I don't see this as annoying. This is very good for the sport, to have competitors like him, to have champions like him. He has made me a much better player. He has made my levels of concentration higher and higher every single time I get to play him. You have to be really involved and you have to be dedicated to the game when you play against him.”