Stefanos Tsitsipas’ Near-Death Experience at Sea Gives Him the Drive to Win

Theodora Petalas is Stefanos Tsitsipas current girlfreind

Stefanos Tsitsipas will become Greece's first Grand Slam champion and a world number one if he wins the Australian Open final on Sunday -- he will have his father to thank if he does.

There are not many athletes whose careers and outlooks have been forged by near-death experiences, but the 24-year-old world number four is an exception.

Professional tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipas believes that almost dying gave him more confidence and a better perspective, helping him in his career.

The BBC gives details about Tsitsipas’ near-death experience in October 2016.

He was swimming off the coast of Crete with a friend in 2015, while taking part in a third-tier Futures event in Crete.

The then teenage Tsitsipas and a friend went swimming but they almost fatally misjudged the strength of the currents and the pair was dragged out to sea.

Not understanding what was happening, they panicked and frantically tried to fight against the current, exhausting themselves in the process.

The two boys were just moments from being swept away until Tsitispas' quick-thinking dad Apostolos dived in to guide them back to safety.

"We couldn't breathe, I felt awful to be inside the water and was terrified. I didn't know how all this was going to end," Tsitsipas recalled.

"My father saw us from afar and he jumped in, started swimming towards us and pushed us towards the beach. I was just a few breaths away from dying."

"If we were supposed to die and lose our lives that day, we would have done it together.

"My father was a hero.

"That was the day I saw life with a different perspective. I remember after that how much psychologically it changed me."

Tsitsipas shares the same birthday with Pete Sampras, who is also of Greek origin.

Tsitsipas Tennis Career

Tsitsipas’ parents both had tennis backgrounds; mom Julia was a professional, and both her and dad Apostolos taught tennis in the Athens suburbs. With the tennis background of both parents, their son started playing tennis at a very young age.

Tsitsipas achieved world No. 1 status as a junior. At 16, he attended an academy run by Serena Williams‘ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, where he received his elite training.

As a shy kid, Tsitsipas was bullied at school, admitting “it was hard” for him to talk to people, including his family. He preferred to be a good listener and observer. He has made progress since he joined the academy in 2015.

Mouratoglou recalls Tsitsipas was introverted and “developed his own world.” He still has a close relationship with his family, calling them his “stability” and admitting that he “owe[s] a lot to them.

He speaks Greek, English and Russian, and has dabbled in Spanish and Chinese.

- Sporting family -

Sport is in his genes. Life-saving Apostolos is his coach while mother Julia Salnikova is an ex-tennis pro.

His grandfather, Sergei Salnikov, was a 1956 Olympic gold medallist in football playing for the Soviet Union.

Since turning pro in 2016, Tsitsipas's career has been on a steadily upward curve.

He was ranked 210 in the world in his first season but was inside the top 100 by the end of 2017 and as high as five in 2018, the first Greek to achieve such a status.

By the time he was 21 he had already swept wins over the sport's three biggest beasts -- Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Tsitsipas was the first Greek man to win a tour title and has claimed nine in total, but a Grand Slam crown has remained elusive.

He hopes that will change when he faces Djokovic in Sunday's Australian Open final. Victory would also make him world number one for the first time.

His only previous major final was in 2021 when he came agonisingly close to the French Open crown, racing into a two-set lead in the final over Djokovic before the Serb mounted an epic comeback to claim victory.

His biggest win to date came while he was still 21. He captured the 2019 season-ending ATP Finals title, becoming the youngest champion since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.

- 'Very smart' -

Blond-haired and standing 6ft 4ins (1.93m) tall, Tsitsipas has long been touted as a possible heir to Djokovic, Nadal and Federer.

He comes across as one of tennis's more rounded players, but he can be feisty too.

He has developed an intriguing rivalry with Daniil Medvedev, another coming up fast behind the "Big Three".

The Russian once described Tsitsipas's game as "boring".

Tsitsipas branded Medvedev an "(expletive) Russian" in a fiery encounter in Miami.

His Melbourne opponent Djokovic, no stranger to controversy himself, is a fan.

"He is a hard worker, dedicated, nice guy," the Serb once said.

"He's very smart and wise. I love the fact that he is more than just a tennis player and he's always looking to learn from experience and to understand something new about himself.

"That's the trait of a champion, of someone who has great potential to be number one in the world and win Slams and be a great ambassador for the sport."

Who is the girlfriend of Stefanos Tsitsipas? Learn all about Theodora Petalas

Tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas is currently dating a gorgeous woman from Greece, and his girlfriend’s name is Theodora Petalas. Theodora and Tsitsipas have been dating for over a year now and were first spotted in public during a holiday last year.

Theodora is a working professional. She has worked as a PR intern at Oscar de la Renta and a Sales intern at Mary Kantrantzou. She has also worked as a marketing manager for a hospitality group – Habitas.

Petalas personal life is not that much in public. She was born and raised in Greece and despite being a tennis star’s girlfriend – her private life is not that much out in public. As per her LinkedIn profile, she has done her bachelors and masters from NYU, and is known for being highly career-minded



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