Stefanos Tsitsipas has reportedly dumped Aussie tennis great Mark Philippoussis as his coach after another disappointing early exit at the US Open. The Greek World No.7 has never made it past the third round at Flushing Meadows and that sorry record continued after a shock five-set loss against World No.128, Dominic Stricker.
The Swiss underdog prevailed 7-5, 6-7 (2-7), 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 in an absorbing four-hour battle that marked his first career victory over a top-10 player in just his third grand slam appearance. For Tsitsipas, it was yet another underwhelming result on the North American hard court swing, with the 25-year-old also suffering early exits at the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Masters.
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Tsitsipas was hoping a shake-up in his coaching setup would bring about a change of fortunes after bringing in Philippoussis earlier this month to replace his father Apostolos as head coach. The move to reappoint Philippoussis came less than three months after the Aussie great was initially let go as Tsitsipas' assistant coach.
Philippoussis - a former US Open and Wimbledon runner-up - was seen as a calming influence for Tsitsipas, whose relationship with his coach and father was often volatile. The World No.7 revealed earlier in August that he had given his father "some time off" to take a break from the sport, in the hopes he would return feeling "refreshed again". Apostolos has a notable absentee from the players' box at the US Open.
Both Tsitsipas' father and mother Julia were involved in ugly courtside incidents during Philippoussis' first tenure as assistant coach, which included the World No.7 making this year's Australian Open final. The mild-mannered Philippoussis was seen as somewhat of a peacemaker, as well as a mental coach and serving expert for Tsitsipas, having joined forces with the Greek last year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Mark Philippoussis split for second time
However, their latest partnership appears to be over, with respected tennis reporter Jose Morgado confirming the Tstisipas' news after video emerged from Greek television about the latest split with Philippoussis. "Yep. The first Apostolos-less experience didn’t work... R2 on Canada and US Open, R3 in Cincinnati," he tweeted about the World No.7's disappointing recent results in North America since letting go of his father Apostolos as coach.
Yep. The first Apostolos-less experience didn’t work…
R2 on Canada and US Open, R3 in Cincinnati https://t.co/q0BNQmvmpl
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 30, 2023
Tsitsipas will no longer be working with Mark Philippoussis. https://t.co/FLaq6FFFiY
— Vicky Georgatou (@VGeorgatou) August 30, 2023
After his R2 loss to Stricker, Stefanos Tsitsipas says that his partnership with Mark Philippoussis ‘is over’ and that he felt ‘out of rhythm’ with only him on his team.
Mark took over as head coach at the beginning of the month… pic.twitter.com/nPc9nJ3kjy
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) August 30, 2023
That's sad. Backhand is Tsitsipas' Achilles' heel. And who better than a player with a beautiful one-handed backhand to help him? It's too bad the partnership didn't work out! I hope Stefanos doesn't go back to his dad! He needs to look for an ex-player/coach who's a good fit.
— Curatorous (@Curatorous) August 30, 2023
To his credit, Tsitsipas refused to blame the shock second round exit on his tumultuous coaching situation. The two-time grand slam runner-up said blame for the defeat against Stricker rested squarely on his own shoulders.
“By no means I’m supposed to put any blame on any people or any members of my team,” Tsitsipas said. “Everything on court is under my control and under my talents, and the way I can play this sport are shown out on the court. If I’m not able to deliver, then I’m not supposed to be doing well."
Casper Ruud crashes out as Aussie clinches stunning career-first
Joining Tsitsipas as a massive second round casualty was last year's US Open runner-up Casper Ruud, who crashed out in five sets against China's Zhang Zhizhen. It was a wild rollercoaster of a match for Ruud, who ultimately succumbed 4-6, 7-5, 2-6, 6-0, 2-6 to his 67th-ranked opponent, who became the first Chinese man to beat a top-10 player at a grand slam.
Novak Djokovic suffered a scary tumble en route to a straight-sets defeat of Spain's Bernabe Zapata Miralles. Djokovic had fans holding their breath when he hit the deck in a nasty tumble, but shook off the fall and continued his torrid display, with a crushing 6-4 6-1 6-1 victory.
Dominic Thiem's rotten run of injuries and misfortune continued, with the former US Open champion forced to retire from his second round match against local hope, Ben Shelton. Thiem - who has been ranked as high as No.3 in the world - was forced to pull the pin early in the second set against the American after struggling with a stomach complaint and revealing that he vomited before his match.
While Australia's Rinky Hijikata advanced to the third round of a grand slam for the first time in his career after a stunning win over World No.57 Márton Fucsovics. Ranked 53 places lower than his Hungarian opponent at World No.110, Hijikata produced an extraordinary 6-1 6-2 6-1 victory to set up a third round clash with Zhang.
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