By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, May 28, 2023
On Roland Garros opening day, Stefanos Tsitsipas was in no mood for extended engagements.
When big-serving Czech Jiri Vesely held four set points in the fourth-set tiebreaker, a fifth set seemed inevitable.
A stubborn Tsitsipas rewrote that ending fighting off all four set points in a 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(7) Roland Garros win to reach the second round.
Afterward, Tsitsipas credited forward thinking and carbo loading with his closing power.
“Red wine and baguettes,” a smiling Tsitsipas joked about his Paris success.
It was very much a gut-check for the 2021 Roland Garros runner-up, who pointed to his temple after the win that raised his clay-court record to 14-4 this season.
“The match was very inconsistent from my side. I felt like I haven’t played a match with so much inconsistency in a very long time,” Tsitsipas told the media in Paris. “There weren’t a lot of rallies in play. He was serving big, so I had to find ways to change that. At times I felt like my footwork was lousy. I think it’s also due to the fact that, as I said, there were not many rallies played which didn’t allow my legs to be activated. Might be because of that.
“But otherwise I’m happy with how things turned around, and my fighting spirit kind of went on full display in those last few points of the tiebreaker. It was a great way to end it by just being patient and waiting for that chance to pop up.”
The fifth-seeded Tsitsipas applied forward thinking and exploited Vesely tightening up a bit to create his comeback.
“I said, Okay, let me try something new. Let me just try and go to the ball a little bit more, add a little bit more depth to my shot and a better way to kind of view the court, as well, by doing that, coming in,” Tsitsipas said. “It kind of worked in those three points. I started serving and I started thinking, okay, I might come to the net after the serve or I might approach after the first return.
“Automatically everything started shifting more towards forward instead of let’s play the rally or let me wait for the shot to come to me. Psychologically, that was like kind of, it created a spark.”
Two-time Monte-Carlo champion Tsitsipas will try to keep the spark burning when he likely faces Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena in a second-round match.
Photo credit: Andy Cheung/Getty