Stefanos Tsitsipas put his right elbow through its toughest test since surgery in November, emerging from a taxing three-set loss to Diego Schwartzman at ATP Cup in Sydney pleased with his progress but apprehensive about the immediate toll he may pay in coming days.
The World No. 4 toiled for two hours and 43 minutes and fired around 120 serves, double the number he has typically been hitting in practice. During an emotional press conference the Greek said that he endured pain throughout the match and that he held concerns about how his arm may feel in the morning.
“It was good to see myself perform at such a level. I didn’t expect it,” said Tsitsipas, who withdrew from last year’s Nitto ATP Finals after playing just one match. “It worked out better than I thought. I was able to hit balls that I was scared to hit two weeks ago, so I’m heading towards the right direction.
“It was a very close match, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it despite losing again. I enjoyed fighting. I enjoyed the thrill of it. I enjoyed the atmosphere that the people created.”
Tsitsipas withdrew from his opening ATP Cup singles Saturday due to concerns about his arm, but fronted up later in the day to play doubles. That outing left him sore and he said that he is eager to learn how his arm will feel Tuesday after his 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 loss to Schwartzman.
Greece still has one match to play Wednesday at ATP Cup despite being eliminated from semi-final contention following Monday night’s defeat to Argentina.
“I’m in a little bit of pain. That’s normal. I served more serves than I have ever served in the last month,” Tsitsipas said. “I have been practising, trying to get 50, 60 serves in, and today I really went far. I was fatiguing in the end. I tried to avoid the pain but I got to finish the match somehow.
“I’d love to play [my next ATP Cup match], but I really don’t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow. That was one of the biggest concerns if I’m going to play this match today, how is the recovery going to be tomorrow, which was the issue with the doubles. I finished the doubles but the next day I couldn’t serve. I was unable. I was in a lot of pain.
“So I’m really hoping to be able to walk on court tomorrow and practise some serves without pain. That’s my biggest goal right now, to have 100 per cent recovery on my elbow.”
Looking ahead to the Australian Open, where he reached the semi-finals in 2019 and 2021, the winner of seven ATP Tour titles said that he expected to be fully fit.
“It gets better and better every single day almost… we have plenty of time before the Australian Open begins, and I think if I take the right precautions and follow what my doctor says, then I can see myself performing at 100 per cent at the Australian Open.
“Going into that surgery, even the doctor was unsure if it’s a good idea to perform and play the Australian Open. My recovery was much better than he would have expected in comparison with some other players that he has treated in the past, so he was surprised. He came to Dubai and he was surprised to see me hitting almost close to 100 per cent.”