Stefanos Tsitsipas moved into the Australian Open final on Friday, taking a step towards becoming the first Greek world number one, which the third seed said would be the culmination of a boyhood dream.
Backed by the predominantly Greek crowd on Rod Laver Arena, the 24-year-old stormed into the second Grand Slam title clash of his career following Roland Garros in 2021, after a 7-6(2) 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 win over Russian 18th seed Karen Khachanov.
“I remember watching [Grand Slam finals] on TV saying to myself, I want to be there one day myself. I want to recreate that feeling for me,” Tsitsipas, who plays favourite Novak Djokovic or Tommy Paul next, told reporters.
“I knew that’s a very long journey to get there. There are certain steps you have to take to give yourself the chance to be competing for something like this.
“But I very much believed it. First of all, it’s your ego that speaks. You either have it or not, you know? As a kid, I was very confident. Thank God I was good in my country.
“I did finish as a junior number one. Now I want to do it in the men’s side, in the men’s professional tennis.”
Tsitsipas has always felt at home in Melbourne, which has the largest population of Greek speakers outside of Greece and Cyprus and is sure to enjoy massive support again in the title clash on Sunday.
He said he was also delighted to put his country on the map along with women’s world number six Maria Sakkari.
“I feel blessed that I’m able to play tennis at this level. Maria and I have done an incredible job,” Tsitsipas said.
“I know it probably doesn’t mean as much for Australians because they’ve been always producing players and they’ve always had their fair share of top players but coming from a small country like Greece I’m so grateful I get some more like this.
“I would have never thought I’ll be treated so well here. So I’m extremely happy that I’m going to find out now. Let’s see what happens.” [Reuters]