Stefanos Tsitsipas is currently in Melbourne and has entered the final stage of preparation for the ATP Cup and the Australian Open.
The 22-year-old tennis player spoke briefly to SBS Greek Radio while still in quarantine after his daily training session.
In his conversation with SBS Greek Radio, Stefanos Tsitsipas spoke about his physical condition and the preparation for the upcoming matches for the ATP Cup and the Australian Open; the complaints of athletes for racist behaviours; the discrimination he has felt against him in the past; his comments about his posts on social media that have provoked many reactions (mainly in Greece); and the respect he has for the Greeks of Australia.
Compared to other players, Stefanos is happy with the quarantine conditions as he has fantastic views of Melbourne from his 25-floor apartment which helps him to pass the time.
He does his physiotherapy from the room, he is watching what he is eating, and he cannot wait to spend some time outside after his release, which is due in the next 3 days.
"The hardest part of these two weeks was that I had to be patient."
When he arrived in Melbourne on the first day of the quarantine, Tsitsipas wrote on Twitter that "Greek-Australians are the proudest people he knows. God bless them all."
At one point he wanted to invite some Greek men and women to gather under the balcony of his hotel in central Melbourne with their Greek flags "to show them off," as he says.
"I changed my mind; I did not want to get them into trouble," he added.
On his condition and preparation
"I have improved my movement on the court as well as my speed. I have become more aggressive; my blows from the baseline are stronger," says Tsitsipas.
His preparation period in Dubai was instrumental in improving his performance.
On titles, discrimination and being the number 1 tennis player in the world
During his interview with SBS Greek radio, Tsitsipas said that he wants to win titles, get his name in the Hall of Fame; he wants to become the best tennis player in the world and and not necessarily to simply to reach the top of the world rankings.
"There are a lot of things I haven't accomplished yet, so it's going to take time," Tsitsipas says.
"I have achieved some things. I have won some tennis players and games that have offered me incredible and unforgettable experiences."
For Tsitsipas, becoming the number one player in the world rankings is not his main ambition.
"It's a cliché, monotonous and boring to say you want to be number one in the world!" says Tsitsipas.
"Some titles are more important, matches that you can show that you are a good tennis player and victories with players who are high in the world rankings," he says.
On complaints from other athletes in Greece
Stefanos Tsitsipas does not know much of the details of the sexual abuse case of Olympic champion Sofia Bekatorou.
But he referred to another incident, that of his friend Greek pole vaulter Emmanuel Karalis.
In 2019, the young athlete was the recipient of racist comments about his skin colour by his then coach, Dimitris Kytea, whom was denounced for racist behaviour.
The Sports Commission (EAP) imposed a penalty on the coach due to this racist behaviour.
I know Emmanuel for many years, and I consider him as my brother," Tsitsipas says. "It's a disgrace what happened!"
"People who behave like this and see the world that way, I don't think they deserve to be in such positions."
Discrimination against Tsitsipas
In the field of tennis, Tsitsipas says he has not encountered any incidents of sexual harassment or racism.
However, when he participated in tennis tournaments outside Greece and as a teenager, he felt discriminated against.
It was a time when Greece was at the centre of the global financial crisis and on the verge of bankruptcy.
"I felt fragile at that time, and that people disliked me, I was 13 or 14 years old, I had not hurt anyone, I travelled to play in certain tournaments in some countries that had problems with our country. I saw it as very unfair," Tsitsipas admits.
Criticism of his posts and comments on Twitter
Tsitsipas has faced criticism relating to his presence at infamous parties in Dubai and the photos he uploaded from such parties as well as his attitude to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It should be said here that whilst in Dubai, the Greek athlete spends a long time as part of his preparation as is custom for a lot of athletes in the field.
At the time that Tsitsipas made comments on social media relating to COVID-19, there had been no new cases and the spread of the virus was very low.
Stephanos refers to the negative comments made about him on social media, emphasizing that; "so many times I see hatred from people. Not that I care because I know what a person I am and what my intentions are. I have no negative or bad intentions for anyone, and I love everyone. "
He continues, "I generally like to project and leave a positive aura with the people I meet and spend time with."
"But many times I see comments on the internet, some of my friends, family members send me all this hatred on the internet, and I can not understand why people hate so much, for reasons that are completely meaningless."
"I love everyone! I try with my "voice" that I have through Twitter to express myself as a person and as an athlete," he says.
Admiration for the Greeks of Australia
When he arrived in Melbourne on the first day of the quarantine, Tsitsipas wrote on Twitter that "Greek Australians are the proudest people he knows. God bless them all."
Aussie Greeks are the proudest people I know. God bless them all!— Stefanos Tsitsipas (@StefTsitsipas) January 16, 2021
"Their pride is completely... uncontrollable!"
Many times they have such passion and love for the country, that they make me feel proud and lucky to come from a country with such methods and such a fantastic culture."
The young champion says Greek-Australians have not only kept traditions and Greek cuisine, but have also developed them.
He would soon like to be back with his team, family and friends to holiday in Melbourne, and dine at his beloved Greek tavern.
And what's on the menu? The now legendary "Tsitsipas Souvlaki"!
Together with fellow Greeks Michalis Pervolarakis, Marko Kalovelonis and the unranked Petros Tsitsipas the younger brother of Stephanos, Tsitsipas will compete in the ATP Cup to be held in Melbourne from February 2 to 6 in Melbourne.
On the 8th of February, the Australian Open begins.
From all of us good luck Stefanos.
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