Last year champion Stefanos Tsitsipas returns to the site of his biggest triumph at the ATP Finals eager to end a strange 2020 season on a high note. The No.6-ranked player is competing at the ATP Finals for the second time after an unforgettable debut that saw him defeat Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Roger Federer before toppling Dominic Thiem to claim the 2019 title.
“Every year I get to experience being back here is thrilling,” Tsitsipas said ahead of the tournament. “It’s like a meeting spot for those that had a good year, just to be back here and celebrate their hard work, their dedication to the sport, and I’m very privileged to be part of it.”
Defending his ATP Finals title would be “the best case scenario”, but the Greek player acknowledged that he has his work cut out for him if he wants to become the first back-to-back champion since Novak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015.Tsitsipas landed in Group London 2020, which is anchored by 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, who comes into the tournament on the back of a record 13th Roland Garros title – and who was also the only player to defeat Tsitsipas at this venue during the Greek player’s run to the title.
“Rafa is one of the biggest fighters, one of the biggest icons of our sport, and having him in my group is an opportunity to go out on the court and try my best and fight my best against him,” Tsitsipas said. “He’s the favourite, we all know that. He has been more years on the Tour, he has been playing great tennis. “But I’m more young than him, and I haven’t had that much experience. So I think playing against him is always an extra opportunity to prove myself, and be out on the court and try to find ways to win.”
Group London 2020 also features US Open winner Thiem in a rematch of the 2019 final, and is rounded out by one of the most in-form players of the season in Andrey Rublev.
“Dominic, we know each other for a long time. We are good friends, on and off the court. He has contributed a lot to my success, and he has inspired me in many ways,” Tsitsipas said. “[Andrey] is one of the most difficult opponents and for sure has been in a great run these past couple of weeks, playing a lot of finals and having a lot of titles in his pocket. So I’m sure he’s going to be in good shape and good form psychologically, mentally ready for his first appearance.”
If he can make it through, Tsitsipas will be eyeing his second ATP trophy of 2020 after a victory at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille earlier this year. Tsitsipas also posted a run to the final at the Hamburg European Open and reached his second Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros this season.
“I’m grateful that I get to be among the eight players and be here to defend my title. I know it’s not easy to be in this position, and I’ve really worked hard for it,” Tsitsipas said.
“[Defending my title] would be the best thing that could happen this year for me. But for sure, we have to take it step by step, one step at a time.”