Stefanos Tsitsipas has won praise around the tennis world after an incredibly classy tribute to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open final. The Greek star was no match for Djokovic on Sunday night, going down 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in the title decider.
Tsitsipas was visibly shattered after the straight-sets defeat, but started his runner-up speech by paying tribute to Djokovic, whose 22nd career major puts him equal with Rafa Nadal for the all-time men's record. While Djokovic and Nadal might be on level pegging, Tsitsipas declared Djokovic was "the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet for sure."
"It speaks for yourself what you have achieved so far," Tsitsipas said. "It's all in the numbers. Congratulations. Not only to yourself but to having, like, such supportive family.
"He is the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet." 👏👏 Stefanos Tsitsipas classily declared Novak Djokovic the GOAT in his post-match speech. 🐐
🖥️ #AusOpen | https://t.co/80XjQpwd6J#9WWOS #Tennis pic.twitter.com/Poio1TEkUo
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) January 29, 2023
"You know, I think it's very similar the way we grew up around tennis, so it's been an unbelievable journey for you so I admire what you have done for our sport. I think you make me a better player when I am on the court, so thank you.
"I've had the privilege to play a lot of difficult, high- intensity matches but I would like to say one more time Novak brings the best out in me they've been working my whole life for. He's the one of the greatest in our sport and I think - he's the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet for sure.
"I haven't done this but I'd like to thank you for pushing our sport so far. I think it deserves a player like you that pushes everyone, every single player, every single individual that's involved in the sport to the max."
Djokovic later thanked Tsitsipas for his kind words, while tennis fans took to social media to commend the Greek star's classy and humble reaction to the loss.
What a gracious speech by Tsitsipas. #AusOpen 🇬🇷
— Helena Morrissey DBE (@MorrisseyHelena) January 29, 2023
Top speech, so gracious and humble.
— Adey May #1984BigBrothersBoot (@Imforthewhales) January 29, 2023
— Boris Radonjić (@BorisRadonjic) January 29, 2023
What a man!!!
Absolute class of a man!!!!
God bless you Stephanos @steftsitsipas
— Sunday Jimoh Matthew (@sundayjimmateo) January 29, 2023
Tsitsipas speech is so good, so appreciative, ran out of superlatives for Novak.
Incredible tribute to Novak and his family.
— 🦋 Yolita🐊 (@Yolitatennis) January 29, 2023
— Greg Sleigh (@GregSleigh) January 29, 2023
Wow. What an incredibly gracious speech by Tsitsipas! Such an amazing guy.
— Bethany Williams 💙🇺🇦💛 (@BethanyinCBR) January 29, 2023
Stefanos Tsitsipas suffers more heartbreak against Djokovic
Tsitispas missed out on a chance to capture the World No.1 ranking for the first time in his career, suffering more heartbreak at the hands of Djokovic. The 24-year-old was famously beaten by Djokovic in the French Open final in 2021 after holding a two-set lead.
"It's not easy. Another final at a grand slam, but I'm always willing to go back on court and work harder," Tsitsipas said after losing his 10th straight match against Djokovic.
For his part, Djokovic admitted Tsitsipas was the better player in the second set and predicted he would go on to achieve many grand slam successes. "He's knocking on the door of grand slam title and I told him that he is going to win it, it's just a matter of time," Djokovic said. "I know that Rafa (Rafael Nadal) and myself will make sure that the young guys don't take too many slams for a little while, but it's inevitable."
Meanwhile, Djokovic has shrugged off suggestions he's the GOAT (greatest of all time) of men's tennis after Tsitsipas' kind words. "No, no, look, first I have to say that, I am so honoured and privileged to be in this discussion, first," Djokovic said in his post-match press conference.
"Second, I truly honour and admire the history and all the greats that paved the way for all of us to be here where we are. I feel like it's difficult to have a conversation about this because every generation is different.
"You know, 30, 40 years ago you played three out of four slams on the grass with wooden racquets. Technology has advanced so much. Things have changed. Hard to compare generations.
"But I feel like I gave my best really and I'm still doing that. So if the people see me as one of the greatest players to ever play the game, I'm very grateful."
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