Stefanos Tsitsipas 7
Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Roger Federe during the final of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. Image Credit: Atiq Ur Rehman /Gulf News

Dubai: Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas is creating a revolution in tennis in his country. Despite being outplayed by former world No. 1 Roger Federer in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships late on Saturday, the 20-year-old is aware of what he brings to the table when it comes to carrying his nation on the world stage.

“Educated people from Greece who had no idea about tennis before have got to know the sport better. I’m proud. I’m a symbol for that country. A star, if you can call it, who is making a big impact in the sport in Greece, outside Greece as well,” Tsitsipas told media late on Saturday.

“But I’m actually really proud specifically for Greece because Greece is not known for its tennis history, any tennis moments. I’m very proud that I’m Greek. I mean, everybody should feel proud for what they are. I’m really proud that I’m Greek, representing those colours, representing this flag, it’s the biggest honour. I feel like a team when I’m playing for Greece. I feel like it’s teamwork, not an individual thing,” he added.

Tsitsipas, who made a huge impact with a hard-fought win in four sets against Federer at the Australian Open, was disappointed he couldn’t add to his success. “It just feels strange. I really wanted to win my first ATP 500 title. I’ve been trying hard and for very long now. I’m a bit sad that I didn’t manage to do it now,” he admitted.

“I’m actually pretty happy for him [Federer] as well. I know he has worked very hard to get there. I mean, I didn’t want to give it to him. I’m happy what he has achieved. I felt like the crowd was really cheering for him. That’s obvious. He’s a legend,” Tsitsipas added.

The Greek youngster then went on to say how he’s touched the near pinnacle of tennis success within a comparatively short period of time. “It was a step-by-step process. First I cracked into the top-100. Then I had another goal of making the top-50. I would say the toughest thing, toughest achievement, was getting into the top-100. It felt like my game was flowing pretty well,” he said.

“I felt like I was improving every single time. I felt like I could break into the top-10. Once I was inside the top-100, I felt like I had the possibilities and the game to make it. I was happy last night against Gael (Monfils). It was something I was craving for a long time,” he added.