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Stefanos Tsitsipas is pursuing his first ATP Tour title of the season this week in Rotterdam.

Tsitsipas: 'There's A Different Feeling When You Give Your Soul On The Court'

The Greek star will play Khachanov in the Rotterdam quarter-finals

At the end of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ three-set battle against Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, there were no fans urging on the players due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But that didn’t mean the cavernous setting was devoid of sound.

“Come on! Come on!” Tsitsipas screamed after earning his third match point.

“Yes! Come on!” the Greek star roared after clinching the match on the next point.

Those words echoed throughout the arena as Tsitsipas celebrated a hard-fought victory against the Polish No. 1 after more than two hours. While the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion has become known for his dynamic game and powerful strokes, the 22-year-old has another weapon: his fighting spirit.

“I take more pride in that than winning effortless matches,” Tsitsipas said. “Effortless matches are great for energy consumption, but there is a different feeling when you fight so hard and you give your soul out on the court, when you manage to win a match under these conditions.

“It might also add a little bit of confidence to your game.”

The way Tsitsipas describes it, getting into a zone creates a unique feeling as a tennis player. All he sees is a small “centre of attention”. The Greek is fully concentrated on the tennis ball.

“The rest is just blurry. You are in the moment,” Tsitsipas said. “That’s probably the best feeling in tennis, when you’re 100 per cent there and every point counts… you don’t get very often matches that you are so zoned in, and today [that] was the case.”

Players leaving that zone and losing their concentration, even for a few points, could prove costly in matches. That’s why Tsitsipas enjoys finding that mental space.

“Nothing else matters, it’s just that ball that comes to you that is the centre of attention,” Tsitsipas said. “The more you want it during a match, and also [having] the ability to concentrate for so long, creates something like this. I love moments like this when I can be fully present and feel like I want to thrive.”

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Tsitsipas tries to bring that competitive edge to the practice court, too. The Greek enjoys the grind of trying to get better every day.

“It can get difficult at times. I’m expecting a lot from myself and I’m hard on myself during practice, during matches,” Tsitsipas said. “There are certain moments where it’s just not easy. There’s a lot of frustration. But I think hard work is the only way to do things and succeed in your occupation.”

Tsitsipas has read Andre Agassi’s book, Open, and met the former World No. 1 when he coached Novak Djokovic. The World No. 6 takes inspiration from something the American legend once said.

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“In tennis and in any other sport generally, if you don’t work hard, as Andre Agassi said, ‘Those who don’t practise don’t deserve to win,’” Tsitsipas said. “I completely stand by that. I think practice makes perfect.

“I would like to add smart work and work that’s accurate, focussing on the things that matter is also very important, especially at these levels. We’ve worked a lot to get here, but there’s this smart work that makes a whole lot of difference among us.”

Tsitsipas will continue to pursue his first ATP Tour title of the season on Friday when he plays big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. It’s safe to say he will bring his competitive edge to the court.

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