PARIS (Reuters) – Stefanos Tsitsipas said he is getting back to his best by easing the burden on his shoulders and playing without any expectations as he cruised into the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman on Friday.
Once considered the rising star to take on the mantle as the “Big Three” – Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic – give way to a new generation, 24-year-old Tsitsipas has yet to win a Grand Slam.
The Greek lost two major finals to Djokovic, including this year’s Australian Open title clash, and has seen younger players like Carlos Alcaraz emerge and rise to world number one.
But Tsitsipas said he has changed his mindset to play with a carefree attitude and not focus on the result, which helped him beat claycourt specialist Schwartzman in straight sets.
“I’ve produced some really good tennis when I’m at a psychological state of ‘nothing matters and I don’t care anymore’. And I just want to play it, I don’t care what the outcome will be,” Tsitsipas told reporters.
“And (in) moments like this, I have broken back. I’ve suddenly found my rhythm back into the game. I guess there is lack of expectation, lack of thought… when you’re out there because you’re constantly analysing every decision.
“When you let go of that, when you – I don’t like using that word because I’ve never really done it in a tennis match – when you kind of ‘tank’, for some players it can be very beneficial and help them play better in a way.”
Tsitsipas was at his sublime best against Schwartzman, firing 34 winners past the Argentine, including one of the shots of the tournament – a sliding backhand winner around the post that drew a roar from the crowd.
“We never practice that, it was a one-off,” he said with a laugh. “It was the very last millisecond when I decided, ‘You know what, forget the net, we don’t need it on that particular occasion.’
“I saw there was a gap there I could utilise and it just went through. It was a very good, satisfying feeling getting that winner down the line… It felt like hitting a home run.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)