We’ve reached the tournament final with Stefanos Tsitsipas continuing his run here at the Toronto Masters, beating four top-ten players in the process to face Rafael Nadal later today. We’ve been following and the tennis has been sensational from this kid, who actually turns 20 today. While on the topic of birthdays, we had Federer and Felix Auger-Allisime celebrate a birthday on August 8, Rod Laver on August 9, and to add to this genius tennis birthday constellation, we hoist one today, August 12, for Tsitsipas and, wouldn’t you know, another great:
Pretty remarkable week of birthdays, no? Some legends and a couple of prodigies who can, hopefully, make good on their talent (no pressure, fellas). 😉
That’s the question: does Tsitsipas have it in him to overcome Rafael Nadal in a Masters final? Think of the odds given that Rafael is the most professional on tour, seems to rarely bungle his task-at-hand. The guy has the legendary blue-collar work ethic and an other-worldly commitment to competitive greatness.
A pretty tall order for the 6’4″ twenty year-old.
What did return in the Anderson match is his point-for-point rally pressure, which includes, at times, phenomenal defense and an impressive offensive-minded attacking tennis. This was back in play from start to finish yesterday.
Again, he did not have this level at the start of the Zverev match, really through the first two sets, until he faced elimination on the German’s serve at 3-5. He broke Zverev to 2-0 before this odd demise of form.
Yesterday v Mr. Anderson was a return to the Tsitsipas we know and love.
I remember watching Thiem and Tsitsipas go three sets in Indian Wells back in March. The young man has been coming for months on the ATP. He made the SF last week in Washington D.C.
Today marks another milestone (two if we include the birthday).
Being the tea-leaf reader, I don’t see a giant event here necessarily. If Stefanos pulls-off the win, we anoint the youngster as a real future threat evidenced by his ability to wrestle the bull into submission. Shapo did this last year in a Montreal QF, which is why that Canadian is on everyone’s watch-list.
Beating Rafa in a final would be even more impressive and more difficult.
But if he doesn’t beat Rafa today, not life-changing.
But let’s just talk quickly about the tennis. The serve is getting better by the match, seemingly. If he can keep that FS % in the high 60s, he will benefit massively. He wants to be on offense; an effective first serve will expedite that game plan. Remember, he was ~20% in the first set against Zverev. Way off.
His keen court sense and ground strokes that include his desire to come-to-net are hopefully also in place today. He will need all of his tools today, especially his mettle. He just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing. The massive FH can hit the Spaniard off the court, and the BH needs to continue to keep him dangerous from that side. He just needs to play his game at a very high level. It’s a championship final. One needs his championship game. Period.
Of course the OHBH was the focus of Nadal’s dreams last night as the Spaniard drifted and recharged in REM sleep.
We know how this works. Nadal, especially fearing the Greek’s huge FH, will attack the one-hander. The result of the match may be that simple. Rafa feasts on one-handers, on forcing opponents into those deadly errors, UE and otherwise. I said he’d do that against Khachanov and that certainly was the case. Tsitsipas needs to avoid that narrative today.
That’s why the serve, for me, is so important for Stefanos. Stave off the break. Pressure Nadal. Stay offensive. Fear zero. It’s your birthday.
Either way, good luck to both.
Enjoy the match.