He was tipped as the Wimbledon champion-in-waiting should Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer falter, but Stefanos Tsitsipas exited Wimbledon on Tuesday (AEST), dejected but glad to be a step closer to escaping the tennis bubble world.
Third seed Tsitsipas was stunned by America’s Frances Tiafoe, ranked 57, in the first round 6-4 6-4 6-3.
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It was a loss which came just two weeks after Tsitsipas lost a five-set French Open final thriller to Djokovic.
“The bubble makes it really tiring week by week,” said 22-year-old Tsitsipas. “It’s certainly very difficult when you know mentally you’re going to go from one bubble, being in that bubble two and a half weeks, maybe even more than that, like close to a month, to be honest.
“Just like two weeks later you still have to undergo the same procedure and the same thing again. It’s just not easy. It’s a challenge on its own already.”
Tsitsipas has now lost three times in the first round at Wimbledon where his best run was a last-16 place in 2018.
His lack of exposure on grass — he was playing just his 16th match on the surface — was perfect fodder for Tiafoe who had won a second-tier Challenger grass court title just two weeks ago.
“My opponent played much better, significantly better, than me,” admitted Tsitsipas. “There wasn’t the drive that I was hoping for.
“There wasn’t that same fighting spirit that I usually put out on the court.
“But of course, yeah, I would like to see a different me next time. There’s always a next time. That’s a good thing.”
Tsitsipas’s bubble life he detests so much is not quite over as he plays in the doubles with his brother Petros.
Tsitsipas is not well suited to grass.Source:AFP
Tiafoe said tennis was not always “peaches and cream” but his round one upset was a win to celebrate more than most.
The American added that the enormous sacrifices his parents had made gave victory over Tsitsipas an even sweeter taste.
“Yeah, I mean, I overcame a lot of things,” said Tiafoe, whose best performance at a Grand Slam is the quarter-finals of the 2019 Australian Open.
“I was a kid that obviously didn’t come from much.
“I set out a goal from a super young age using the game of tennis to be able to put myself and my family in positions to live the way I personally think we deserve, with all the hard work they put in, and so did I.
“To be in financially better situations, living better situations, so they worked so hard. They overcame so much.”
Tiafoe endeared himself to the crowd on Court One when, after he had sealed victory, his celebration included miming eating from a bowl.
“It’s more so the more matches you win, the better you do, the better the meal is,” explained the world No. 57.
“It’s like, you know, I’m out here trying to eat.
“Steak dinners aren’t going to pay for themselves, nice dinners aren’t going to pay for themselves.”
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