'I Sleep With It From Time To Time!' Tsitsipas' Own Piece Of Federer History

  • Posted: Oct 06, 2022

‘I Sleep With It From Time To Time!’ Tsitsipas’ Own Piece Of Federer History

Greek star reflects on emotional night as Swiss star brought career to a close

He’s one of the very best players in the world, but Stefanos Tsitsipas felt like a kid at the recent Laver Cup in London. With Roger Federer playing the last match of his career in doubles alongside Rafael Nadal, the 24-year Greek nervously approached the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion for a slice of history.

“It would mean the world to me if I could have one of your racquets,” Tsitsipas said to Federer. “I’ve been following you since I was three years old. If I could have a racquet to frame and put in my house, to share that with you is extremely special to me. I hope you don’t mind giving me that piece of your identity.”

Federer graciously offered up one of the 340-gram Wilson Pro Staff RF97s from his bag.

“Obviously, he agreed,” Tsitsipas said this week at the Astana Open. “Look, Roger was an idol of mine growing up. It would have been wrong not to get something from his last match. He was very nice, and I sleep with it from time to time.”

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He might have been joking — but it was impossible to know for sure. Tsitsipas is hoping that brush with greatness as a member of Team Europe will carry him towards the finish line of the 2022 season. He was the fourth player to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, following Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud.

On Wednesday, he advanced to the quarter-finals in Kazakhstan, winning two tight tie-breaks against 19-year-old Italian qualifier Luca Nardi. After his 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3) victory, Tsitsipas warmly congratulated Nardi, who had won his first tour-level match in the first round against qualifier Alexander Shevchenko.

That gives the Greek star 51 victories in 2022, one behind ATP Tour leader and World No. 1 Alcaraz. Tsitsipas can equal that total with a victory in Friday’s quarter-final against seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz.

Before the event began, Tsitsipas was asked if shared similarities with Hurkacz, the easy-going Polish player.

“I am pretty loud on social media, though,” Tsitsipas said, referring to his prolific posts on Instagram (1.7 million followers) and Twitter. “I’m pretty quiet in real life, but I like to share some opinions here and there. I would say we’re on the quiet side, I would say he keeps everything to himself, extremely talented.”

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It’s been a terrific year for Tsitsipas, a first-round winner in Astana against Mikhail Kukushkin. He reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, losing to Daniil Medvedev. Then he won the ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo and reached two other Masters 1000 finals, in Rome (l. to Djokovic) and Cincinnati (l. to Coric). He also won on the grass in Mallorca, the ninth title of his young career.

For Tsitsipas, those Laver Cup emotions carried over well beyond Federer’s final match.

“I was crying that night,” Tsitsipas said. “The most surprising thing was how emotional I was the morning after. You would think everything would be let out. But I was in full tears in my breakfast in the morning.

“You see all the beautiful moments go by — I think that’s what you take the most when you share Roger’s amazing retirement. I don’t think you could do it any better with his teammates. I wish one day my retirement can be like that.”

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