After Los Cabos title, Tsitispas must carry momentum into Toronto

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

It was sweltering conditions for players throughout the week at the ATP 250 event in Los Cabos. However, one player that was clearly thriving was the new World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas as he dropped one set en route to the title.

This was an important milestone for the Greek star as it was his 10th career title. That is a nice milestone for any player in their career. However, for a player that has the talent the 24-year-old Tsitsipas does, it seems he took a while to get there.

You would be correct but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. He has lost 17 other finals in his career. A 10-17 record in finals for a perennial Top 5 guy is hard to wrap your head around.

On one hand, you could look at it as he has been in almost 30 ATP tour-level finals, showing he usually wins more than a few matches at each event. That’s the rosy outlook.

Stefanos Tsitsipas finally won a tournament! Now what?

The darker tone would be he is very adept at beating lesser-ranked players, but when up against the biggest names in the sport, he can’t get the job done.

Perhaps the biggest example of his inability to close against top guys came in the 2021 Roland Garros Final versus Novak Djokovic. He was 2 sets to 0 up and could not get across the finish line as it ended in heartbreak.

This is not to say that he doesn’t have the ability to topple the big names. He is clearly one of the most talented players in the sport and his consistency from year to year in terms of match wins, winning titles, and reaching finals is the envy of everyone not named Carlos Alcaraz or Djokovic.

An overview of his 2023 season to this point and you cannot find a lot to not like. He reached the Australian Open Final before losing to Novak. A final at the ATP 500 event in Barcelona saw him fall to Alcaraz. Quarterfinals at Roland Garros where Alcaraz got him again. Now this title in Los Cabos.

He already has 39 match wins and it’s still the first week of August. However, he is 0-5 versus the Top 10. If he truly wants to keep pace with the rest of the Top 5 or 6 guys around him in the rankings, he needs to have some success in a big event.

Tsitsipas played inspired tennis last week and you could tell he brought a new level of focus to his game you don’t see every week. He was locked in from the first serve until he lifted the trophy.

He’ll need to bring that same focus this week to Toronto as a deep run at this Masters 1000 event could do wonders for his confidence. He has won two 1000 titles in his career but those were both on the clay of Monte Carlo. An outdoor hard court is a different animal that brings many more threats throughout the draw.

Right now, Tsitsipas’ career trajectory is trending towards someone like Nikolay Davydenko. The sweet striking Russian was one of the most talented players on tour and was a staple in the Top 10 for the majority of his career.

The biggest title of his career was the 2009 ATP finals on indoor hard at the O2 in London when he took down the biggest names in the sport. Tsitsipas’ biggest title of his career is the ATP Finals on indoor hard in 2019.

Davydenko never won a Grand Slam, but he was always around the quarters and semis. Right about where Stefanos has been thus far.

Luckily, Tsitsipas at 24, has plenty of time on his side. He will surely win a lot more titles and he hopes Toronto could be another. However, for him to gain the worldwide recognition he surely craves, he needs to make a mark at a marquee event. His first match at Toronto will be tricky as he gets the winner of Gael Monfils and Christopher Eubanks who knocked Tsitsipas out of this year’s Wimbledon.

On current form, he will be favored to make at least the last 8 in Toronto, but if he can maintain the focus he showed in Los Cabos, this could be an important week in his ability to take the next step.

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