Stefanos Tsitsipas said he had “no regrets and no tears” after seeing Novak Djokovic overturn a two-set deficit to win the French Open on Sunday.
Djokovic’s 6-7 (6/8), 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win gave him a 19th Grand Slam title. He is now just one major away from equalling the all-time record of 20, jointly held by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Tsitsipas, 22, has time on his side and is widely seen as the natural heir to the sport’s ‘Big Three’ who are all well into their thirties.
“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,” he admitted.
Playing in his first Slam final, Tsitsipas knows his time will come but admits he has lessons to learn from the likes of Djokovic who he described as “an inspiration”.
“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,” he said.
“Two sets doesn’t really mean anything. It’s still one away of winning the entire match.”
Tsitsipas is buoyed by knowing that even before he was 21 he had beaten Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.
This clay-court season, he captured a maiden Masters title in Monte Carlo, had a match point to beat Nadal in Barcelona before winning a seventh career title in Lyon on the eve of Roland Garros.
“I believe, yes, I’m able to play for titles like this. Despite my loss today, I have faith in my game,” he said.
“I very much believe I can get to that point very soon. I was close today. Every opponent is difficult. There’s a small difference between the player I played today and the ones from before.
“But I think with the same attitude I see no reason for me not to be holding that trophy one day.”
Playing with grief
Tsitsipas later revealed that he learned of his grandmother’s death just minutes before his epic five-set French Open final loss to Djokovic on Sunday.
In an Instagram post early Monday morning, the 22-year-old dedicated his first Grand Slam final to his grandmother.
“Five minutes before entering the court my very beloved grandmother lost her battle with life. 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 of the grandmother on his father’s side.
“It’s important to have more people like her in this world. Because people like her make you come alive. They make you dream.”
Tsitsipas, after receiving the bad news, said there are more important things in life than winning trophies.
“Life isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about enjoying every single moment in life whether that’s alone or with others,” he wrote.
“Living a meaningful life without misery and abjection. Lifting trophies and celebrating wins is something, but not everything.”
Inputs from AFP
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