Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Stefanos Tsitsipas’s mother Julia Salnikova is one gutsy woman and she showed exactly how she sets the rules for her world No 6, 21-year-old son.

Ruffled a bit the previous day following statements to the media that the tennis player was being hassled due to control from his family, Salnikova decided enough was enough as she took the back sets in the post-match meeting with media. Towards the end of the press conference, Salnikova told her son: “I’m following you to the press conference to make sure I’m aware of what statements you make.”

As though aware that his mother may be one-up on him, Tsitsipas smilingly inquired: “Did she read the statements I said a few days ago? That’s why she’s here.”

“I don’t spend so much time with you. This is my chance. What I want to ask you is, I’m not sure you are really so much aware of the number of these great tennis players followed by their parents?” she retorted.

“The question is, are you really aware of the number of great tennis players who were helped and followed by their parents on tour?” she pressed.

In his defence, Tsitsipas insisted that he knew a few women players, not men, who were being accompanied by their parents.

“What are some names, please?” she queried, to which Tsitsipas added: “Mostly females I know. Males, not that many. Right now there aren’t many players that are followed, except Alexander Zverev.”

Salinkova then went on to correct her son. “There’s Marat Safin as well,” she said.

“Andrey Rublev was coached by his mother a lot,” she insisted while naming Martina Hingis, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Jennifer Capriati. “They were all great players,” she shrugged.

“I want to know male players with Grand Slam titles and top-5 people,” Tsitsipas said in his defence.

“Maybe you can be the first one,” Salnikova smiled.