Stefanos Tsitsipas is developing something of a bad habit.
Against Andy Murray at Flushing Meadows last year, Tsitsipas took such a long toilet break, that the ATP had to modify rules which had previously never had to be modified, regarding the length of bathroom breaks At Wimbledon, balls landed in the crowd, body shots were made towards Kyrgios, and an ice cold handshake was delivered from Stefanos. These were just some of the antics in the past that left much to be desired about Tsitsipas’s character on the court. However now it seems that Stefanos Tsitisipas has dialled it up a notch. In a press conference during this week’s ATP Finals, Tsitsipas made deriding comments about Andrey Rublev’s tennis ability.
This is the direct quote:
"It’s a shame. I feel like the better player,”.“I felt like I could do more with the ball today. I felt like I could just be much more creative. I don’t even have to say that. I think it’s quite obvious.But, yeah, he prevailed with the few tools that he has. He was able to really take advantage of them and win today.”"
It seems to be a pattern that whenever Tsitsipas loses to a top level player that he initially expected himself to beat, he leaves his sportsmanship at the wayside. When he is placed in an unfamiliar situation (like being behind in the score against both Murray and Kyrgios in the past) he seems to put this worst sportsmanship on display. Where the best players in the sport dig deep and pull out their best tennis to get out of trouble, Stefanos has developed a reputation in the past of resorting to bathroom breaks, medical timeouts, body shots- anything to get himself out of trouble.
Wimbledon’s icy exchange can be forgiven if it was just in isolation. However, this is becoming a small piece in an unfortunately, a larger repertoire of dubious behaviour. There was absolutely no need enter a press conference room and justify a loss to a top 10 player like that. Tsitsipas basically insinuated that Rublev used the most of his inferior tennis weapons.
Tsitsipas would do well to cut these aspects out of his game, because someone of his immense talent and skill level should not resort to cheap excuses, on the court or off the court. He already got to world number 3 without having to pull any of these antics, so it remains to be seen why he resorts to such measures in certain situations. It almost seems that under pressure moments that the worst aspects of his sportsmanship seem to illuminate.
However, Tsitsipas has time to grow and he is still very young. I would not be surprised if in the future, he grows a lot in terms of his sportsmanship.