Heartbreaking tragedy behind Stefanos Tsitsipas' French Open anguish

·4-min read
Pictured here, Stefanos Tsitsipas with Novak Djokovic and his father Apostolos on the right.
Stefanos Tsitsipas found out five minutes before the French Open final that this grandmother had passed away. Pic: Getty

Stefanos Tsitsipas has made the heartbreaking revelation that he found out about his grandmother's death five minutes before the French Open final against Novak Djokovic got underway.

The Greek star looked on track to win a fairytale maiden grand slam singles title when he took the opening two sets against the World No.1, only for Djokovic to stage one of the greatest comebacks in grand slam history.

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Djokovic eventually prevailed 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 to claim his 19th major singles title and become the first man since Rod Laver to twice complete a career Grand Slam.

Tsitsipas cut a dejected and inconsolable figure after the match, as he sank into his changeover chair and buried his head in a towel.

The 22-year-old was visibly upset as he wiped tears from his eyes on numerous occasions, with the World No.5 revealing afterwards that the pain of defeat was compounded by his own family tragedy.

“Five minutes before entering the court my very beloved grandmother lost her battle with life," Tsitsipas wrote.

"A wise woman whose faith in life, and willingness to give and provide can't be compared to any other human being that I have ever met,” Tsitsipas wrote. “It's important to have more people like her in this world. Because people like her make you come alive. They make you dream.

“I would like to say that regardless of the day, circumstance or situation, this is entirely dedicated to her, and only her. Thank you for for raising my father. Without him this wouldn't have been possible.”

The Greek star insisted he left it all out on the court and despite his obvious disappointment, was confident that he would one day realise his dream of winning a grand slam title.

No regrets for World No.5

“I don’t think I have regrets. Could have easily cried, but I see no reason for me crying because I tried everything. I couldn’t come up with anything better,” Tsitsipas admitted.

"What I learned today is that no matter what, in order for the match to be finished, you have to win three sets and not two.

"Two sets doesn't really mean anything."

Tsitsipas admitted he struggled to find his rhythm after the bathroom break that saw Djokovic come back a "different" man.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is seen here wiping away tears after losing in the French Open final.
Stefanos Tsitsipas couldn't hide his disappointment after seeing his grand slam title dream ripped away. Pic: Getty

"I don't know what happened there, but he came back like a different player suddenly," Tsitsipas said. "He played really well. He gave me no space."

The turnaround was surprising because at 22, Tsitsipas is 12 years younger than Djokovic, and the Greek appeared to be the fresher player in the first two sets.

Yet while Djokovic found his form and moved better as the match progressed, Tsitsipas' game slipped. His groundstrokes became less penetrating, and by the end he wore a weary expression.

"I felt like my rhythm was off; I really don't know why," Tsitsipas said.

"It was very strange considering that I started off finding my rhythm, finding my shots, and my movement on the court was perfect. And suddenly I just felt cold and out of it. I felt like I kind of lost my game a little bit. I really wish I could understand why."

Tsitsipas was treated after the third set for a hip issue but dismissed it as a factor.

He was the youngest men's finalist at Roland Garros since Rafael Nadal won the title in 2008, and was trying to become the first Greek to win a grand slam title.

"Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game," Tsitsipas said. "I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today."

with agencies

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