Stefanos Tsitsipas has revealed he wants to be Roger Federer’s “successor” and spoke of how the Swiss great is the reason he uses a one-handed backhand.
The Greek admitted he is “not even near” achieving this goal, but asserted his intent to not let the single-handed backhand “die.”
The world No 7 has revealed previously that 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer, who retired in 2022, was his childhood idol. He holds a 2-2 record against Federer, including a four-set win in the pair’s first meeting at the 2019 Australian Open.
Tsitsipas is in action at the 2023 US Open, where he advanced to the second round with a straight-set victory over Milos Raonic on Monday.
The 25-year-old will face Swiss qualifier Dominic Stricker in the second round in New York on Wednesday.
Following his opening round victory, Tsitsipas was asked if he ever used a two-handed backhand when growing up.
“I switched and I committed to a single-handed backhand at the age of eight. I remember the phase that I was in between deciding which one am I going to follow,” explained the Greek in his post-match press conference.
“I remember showing up at practice on Monday, playing the entire practice with a double-handed backhand. Then next day on Tuesday, I just decided, ‘You know what, I want to play single-handed backhand.’ That kept going for weeks and weeks.
“I remember my second coach at the time, I remember that moment very well, he kind of made fun of me. He said, ‘Stef, are you ever going to decide what you follow?’ Kind of joked that day.
“I took it seriously, so I said, single-handed backhand it is. I’m just committing to that. I’m going all the way, not looking back. It stuck since then. It’s my signature shot today. It kind of defines me.”
The two-time major finalist also addressed whether he has any regrets about deciding to use a one-handed backhand, given the shot has become less prominent.
“Well, the game has definitely shifted more towards double-handed backhands. Safer shot, some may say, easier to control others may say. But I still have faith and belief in the single-handed backhand. I’m here to kind of not have it die,” said Tsitsipas.
“I won’t say successor, but the reason I do play a single-handed backhand is because of Roger. I kind of in a way want to be his successor, as big as this may sound. I’m not even near that yet, but he definitely gave me a reason to pursue a single-handed backhand. That’s definitely a reason why.
“Also Pete Sampras was my hero growing up. So these two tennis players make this shot for me extra special. It kind of sits in my heart deeply because I really want to be like them. I don’t want to copy them, but I just want to acknowledge their greatness through that shot.”
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