Stefanos Tsitsipas’s stunning Australian Open form could have been inspired by the likes of Carlos Alcaraz and other young guns stealing his spotlight, according to John McEnroe.
The 24-year-old third seed will try again to claim his first Grand Slam title when he takes on nine-time champion Novak Djokovic in Melbourne on Sunday with victory also guaranteeing him top spot in the ATP rankings.
It looked only a matter of time before Tsitsipas landed a major when he reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2019 but ending up as French Open runner-up in 2021 is as close as he has come.
Teenager Alcaraz jumped the queue last year by winning the U.S. Open and McEnroe believes it was a jolt for Greek Tsitsipas who struggled in the majors last year after reaching the Australian Open semi-final a year ago.
“Maybe he got a bit of a wake up call when Alcaraz won the Open and became world number one and he’s quite a few years younger,” McEnroe told Reuters in a news conference organised by broadcaster Eurosport.
“Holger Rune is starting to make some real inroads and some of the other younger players. It seemed that the guys that were expected to win like a bunch like (Danil) Medvedev, (Alexander)Zverev before he was hurt, (Dominic) Thiem and Tsistipas, there was a danger that it hasn’t gone their way.
“So I think there was this danger that (Tsitsipas) was going to be sort of not forgotten, but sort of not top top tier.
“So I give him a lot of credit because he didn’t have great results at the majors last year. But there seems to be a positive energy that’s coming from him that I hadn’t seen for a while. And when his forehand’s working it’s really big time.
“He looks really dangerous right now.”
Djokovic will start as a big favourite to take a record-extending 10th title and keep Tsitsipas waiting.
The Serb leads 10-2 in their head-to-head and says he is fully prepared for whatever Tsitsipas brings.
“There is not a lot of secrets between us. He knows my game, I know his. He has matured a lot, he is … at the peak of his abilities,” Djokovic said.
“This is possibly the match of his life — he is playing for a world number one and a Grand Slam title, against me.
“But I know what to do tactically, I have played some of my best matches in Melbourne. I am ready to go to the distance: if it’s five sets, then it’s five sets; if it’s five hours, then five hours. I am looking forward to it.”
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