"I am born a champion": Tsitsipas looks ahead despite loss

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In his second Grand Slam final against Novak Djokovic, the 24-year-old found his tilt at the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup instead only brought an eagerness to compete.

As he entered Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night, greeted by a raucous crowd that included extra support from a Greek Australian crowd and an opponent, conscious that a first victory at this stage would crown him a major champion, the first from Greece.

He left with high acclaim for Djokovic, whose 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) triumph drew him level with Rafael Nadal on 22 major titles.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open 2023 Greek City Times for Greek News

“He is the greatest that has ever held a tennis racquet,” Tsitsipas told the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

In his ten years competing in Australian Open finals, Djokovic had never lifted the runner's-up silver salver and never had to front the post-match press conference in defeat.

Tsitsipas had earned the chance to make that happen, but after almost three hours on court, they could not crack the code.

Nerves, he said, did not play a part.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open 2023 Greek City Times for Greek News

“I wouldn't say I was nervous. I was excited to be out on the court, getting an opportunity to fight for that No.1 spot tonight,” Tsitsipas said.

“I was really looking forward to the game, giving myself a good chance out there. There are definitely things that I can improve and get better at, given the circumstances today.

“But I don't think there's any reason for me to be affected by today's loss. It is a step forward… I very much enjoy the way I play, my attitude on the court, my mental stability, my concentration levels.

“There's still a little bit more to add to the whole structure of my game. I couldn't be more excited to be heading towards that path.”

Victory would have made Tsitsipas the first top-10 player since Stan Wawrinka in 2014 to beat the Serbian at his most successful major.

He stood to become the first since the Swiss to land his maiden Slam at this arena and the 29th to top the rankings since their inception in 1973.

“Today was my opportunity to be a world No.1. I had a better opponent on the other side of the net who did things much better than me. He deserves that spot currently,” Tsitsipas said.

“What I can say is being on the tour for a few years now, I get a lot of different experiences, I get a lot of different things that I'm faced with.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open 2023 Greek City Times for Greek News

“I am born a champion. I can feel it in my blood. I can feel it as a competitive kid that I was when I was young. It's something that is within me.”

“It's my time to aim for something like this. I don't see any reason to be lowering my expectations or my goals.

The only numbers the Serbian cared for now were Australian Open No.10 and Grand Slam title No.22.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Tsitsipas said. “We have other great champions, too, like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, also, in my opinion, one of the best our sport has ever seen, but not only our sport, sports in general.

“He has earned it with so much dedication that he has put in, with so much professionalism in his everyday life.

“It's a wake-up call for me to sort of do the same. I can only learn from that. I can only use that for my benefit. I'm blessed that I get the opportunity to do that.”

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