Sometimes it’s the little things that matter relationship between two people can destroy. Anyone who played table tennis as a child knows that if you score a point thanks to a roller net, you apologize. The tennis player Stefanos Tsitsipás forgot that in the heat of the moment. His counterpart at the time Daniil Medvedev, took offense at the 23-year-old Greek, and the two pros hated each other passionately from then on.
Both Mallorca Championships could both meet in the final. Medvedev, reigning world number one, and Tsitsipás, currently sixth, are the two favorites at number 1 and 2 at the ATP tournament in Santa Ponça. MZ spoke to the Greek on Monday (June 20). The 23-year-old makes his doubles debut in Santa Ponça on Tuesday, and Medvedev and Tsitsipás will play singles for the first time on Wednesday.
What is your first impression of Mallorca?
Here in Calvià there are many green spaces. I think it’s great. Of course the sea is enchanting. I grew up in a similar environment. Mallorca feels a bit like home. I’m used to swimming in the sea and then playing my heart out on the pitch.
They always shine on hard and clay courts. But when it comes to grass, you weaken. Not comfortable on the grass?
I don’t think it’s a problem. I even think that a grass pitch suits me pretty well. The results were just not as desired. The grass is like a childhood sweetheart, like a girl I’ve fallen for but isn’t paying attention to yet. But I’ll keep at it and try to win her heart.
Medvedev is your toughest opponent in Santa Ponça. Their relationship has been strained to say the least over the past few years. How would you describe your relationship today?
It’s not that bad anymore.
So you’re talking to each other again and there are no more problems?
(ironic) Yes, we are best friends. We sometimes go to restaurants together and party together.
Medvedev is allowed to play at the Mallorca Championships, but the Russian players are excluded from the competition at Wimbledon. Some say that’s nonsense, because the athletes have nothing to do with politics. Others say that’s good because you have to make a statement. What is your opinion on this?
I’m being honest and not beating around the bush: the regulation is completely ridiculous. It is extreme not to give an athlete the opportunity to play in a tournament just because of the political situation in his country. Every Russian should be allowed to play Wimbledon. Ultimately, it’s their choice and they must do what they think is best.
Is the topic an affair of the heart for you because your mother is Russian?
No way. I say that with common sense. My mother has lived in Greece for 25 years. My family is not directly affected by the war.
It’s hard to get around Rafael Nadal in Mallorca. Is he the best player right now and the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time)?
He has done enough to deserve this title. I adore him very much. I used to watch his games when I was a kid. I was impressed by his fighting spirit and his discipline on the pitch.
Discipline is a good keyword. It seems a bit as if the new tennis generation is more interested in show and headlines. Think of the freaks of Nick Kyrgios or Alexander Zverev recently…
You could say that. We are an emotional generation that grew up with social media. Information, instructions and tips are processed and portioned for us. In the past, players had to work it all out themselves.
Do you see yourself as the star of the new generation?
I can’t say that yet. My attitude to work will decide that. I’m confident that if I take the right steps, I can become the star.