Stefanos Tsitsipas already had a lot going on when he arrived at the French Open.
He was trying to reach the level of previous Grand Slam champions like Novak Djokovic, who beat Tsitsipas in two major finals, when he suddenly defended against an attack by the sport’s young stars led by Carlos Alcaraz. I had to. A 20-year-old Spaniard ranked number one in the world. Tsitsipas, 24, has another priority. It’s about helping his younger brother Petros, 22, to establish his own identity and become a top doubles player. They will play in up to nine events together this season, whether it helps Stefanos play singles or not, but Petros may or may not always do so.
“I don’t think anyone else would have done this,” Tsitsipas said last week as he was two wins away from Tuesday’s French Open quarterfinal against Alcaraz. “This is our dream.”
For the Tsitsipas family, tennis has always been the ultimate family activity. His mother, Yulia Salnikova Apostolli, was Russia’s top player in the 1980s and was once the best junior in the world. His father, Apostolos, is also a veteran, though not a former top tour pro. He trained as a coach and linesman, and now coaches Stefanos, but doesn’t interfere much when his sons are playing together.
Tsitsipas’ brothers also have two other tennis players, Pavlos, 17, and Elisabeth, 15.
Too much family involvement puts tennis at risk, as the Tsitsipas family demonstrated at the Italian Open last month when Stefanos’ parents talked to Stefanos during his match against Daniil Medvedev. may reach. As Julia spoke to Medvedev in Russian, giving instructions that Medvedev could easily hear and understand, Stefanos used somewhat acrimonious language to order her from her courtside box. This caused a minor scandal in Greece. He declined to comment on the matter when he arrived in Paris.
So far, the relationship with Petros is not so problematic. But to get through it all with a tennis racket, especially when that activity dominates family life, especially when the talent of one of the siblings evolves differently than the talent of the other (as tennis almost inevitably does). ), which requires a unique set of skills.
After spending too much time on the back roads of tennis early last year and suffering too many losses, Petros Tsitsipas made a big decision. It was time for him to stop trying to be a successful singles player like his brother and make doubles his game. The move involved more than tennis. He was 21 years old after returning from injury and his singles ranking was in the 700s. For Petros, it’s time to establish his own identity and stop struggling in the lowest tier tournaments – “win the jungle,” as he described it at Roland Garros last week.
Doubles provided a pass with less resistance. Good players who can’t be near or with the tour’s most elite players and whose game is to learn the unique angles, quirks and strategies of doubles can make a decent living. They should be willing to compete for much less prize money as tournament undercards and late-night shows, especially when they’re climbing the ladder.
This is where Stefanos can help. The Tsitsipas brothers’ high singles rankings (currently No. 5) will allow Petros to compete in big tournaments where he would not have qualified with a lower-ranked partner. Also, given Stefanos’ star power, tournament organizers are likely to offer them a wildcard entry into the doubles draw.
That said, Petros will need to play Stefanos at least eight or nine times a year to learn the game and win as many games as possible in order to climb the doubles rankings in ways he hasn’t in singles. In his brother’s absence, he recently competed in a Challenger Tour tournament with Dutchman Sander Ahrends, 31, but never made the top 1,000 in singles, but finished 98th in doubles. is ranked asLast year, Petros did something different Teammates almost every week. The ranking, which was below 400th two years ago, has risen to 115th.
“It’s like learning how to play chess,” Petros said.
he You can easily find role models around the locker room. Jamie Murray spent years becoming known as the younger brother of Andy Murray, who in 2013 became the first British player to win Wimbledon in 77 years.
Jamie Murray says he still hears people say ‘that guy is Andy Murray’s brother’ when he walks through tennis tournaments, but that wasn’t accepted years ago. It is said that it became
“There’s no point fighting it,” he said.
But Murray said he felt that after 2016, people stopped thinking of him as the brother of the great players in their sport. All he needed was to partner with his brother to win the Davis Cup and become one of the world’s top-ranked doubles players. That same year, his older brother became a top-ranked singles player.
Now he sees Petros trying to achieve the same thing, carving out his own path while people see him as just someone’s brother.
“It’s not easy,” he said.
Petros said doubles feels like a different game when he plays with Stefanos instead of the specialist. The specialist may be better at doubles than Stefanos, but he’s not as good a tennis player. With a specialist, the game becomes all about tactics and strategy. For Stefanos, like any great singles player, it’s all about feel and improvisation.
“More freelancing,” says Petros. It’s like the difference between playing a sheet music and jamming with a uniquely talented musician who succeeds spontaneously.
It was common knowledge that playing doubles improved your singles game and kept your reflexes sharp and focused throughout the big tournament. Petros isn’t convinced that’s always true, especially given that singles has become increasingly physically demanding and how different a quick doubles rally is from a basic singles fight.
At the French Open it didn’t matter. The Tsitsipas brothers lost a heartbreaking first-round match in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Believe me, it sucks,” Stefanos said the next day. “I’m more sorry than ever to lose a relationship with my brother.”
But there is no turning back. The brothers would like to play at Wimbledon unless Stefanos is too exhausted by a deep run at the French Open, but this year’s men’s doubles will go to three sets instead of five. From there, they also hope to compete in summer tournaments in North America, including the US Open.
Stefanos said Petros worked very hard. He wants to help you get as far as you can.
“I just want to go for it,” Stefanos said.
They want to represent Greece in the Olympics and win the Davis Cup.
“Doing it with my brother is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed on a tennis court,” he said.
But before that, he has one more problem to contend with. It was against Alcaraz in the French Open singles quarterfinals.