Tsitsipas 'Headed In Right Direction'
Stefanos Tsitsipas missed Acapulco late last month with a shoulder injury and continued to feel the effects of the issue in an early Indian Wells exit. But as the Greek prepares for the Miami Open presented by Itau, he is hopeful that he can play pain-free at the year's second ATP Masters 1000.
"Everything is getting better and I'm heading toward the right direction," he said Tuesday during the tournament's media day. "[I hope] to play pain-free and just be able to step out there and show something different than Indian Wells because Indian Wells was a big struggle... I hope I get to play with more of an element of fun on the court and not think too much about my arm."
Tsitsipas is seeded second in Miami, where he has reached at least the fourth round in each of the past three tournament editions, including a career-best quarter-final showing in 2021. After overcoming a wrist injury that required surgery to make a strong start to the 2022 ATP Tour season, the Greek hopes to rebound form his latest setback with similar success.
"My health is the most important thing that I could have in tennis," he said. "When I'm feeling healthy, everything falls into place nicely. I'm enjoying myself on the court, I'm getting creative, I can mix up my game and I feel like nothing can go wrong. This is what my aim is for this tournament, to just play pain-free and see how my arm responds on these next few days."
Last year in Miami, Tsitsipas was knocked out by eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz in the last 16. It was the second of the pair's three ATP Head2Head meetings, with the Greek still seeking his first win. After seeing Alcaraz win Indian Wells and return to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — a position Tsitsipas was one win away from claiming for the first time in the Australian Open final — the 24-year-old says he is happy to see players from his generation succeed.
"I'm happy for them," he said, responding to a question about Alcaraz and Indian Wells finalist Daniil Medvedev. "I believe in the message of ubuntu... by having others be good, [to] sort of witness greatness of others around me, I am also allowing myself to become better too. I believe in that message and I think the fact that they're doing well is benefitting me too and it's giving me a clear, better view of how I should approach my game."
Tsitsipas, who cannot face Medvedev until the semis or Alcaraz until the final, will open his Miami campaign against Richard Gasquet or a qualifier/lucky loser.
The two-time ATP Masters 1000 champion also shared some insight into his life off the court, explaining how he has changed his habits on the road since his early years on the ATP Tour.
"I have been very open to be a bit more loose and not so strict with myself the last few years, comparing myself to three or four years ago when I got started," he said. "I was extremely disciplined. Not that I'm not now, but I can let go sometimes. For example, I would just spend the entire two weeks sometimes locked inside my room and go nowhere. I do allow myself a little bit more freedom now and I think it has benefitted me a lot and gave me the opportunity to also grow as a person and not be 100 per cent focussed on the tennis every single week."
If Tsitsipas can find the tennis he needs to book a long stay in Miami, he'll certainly have no shortage of options for off-court fun in South Florida.