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Tsitsipas better than Federer at 21?

At age 21 after the 2002 ATP World Tour Finals, Roger Federer was ranked six in the world.

In 2003 Federer would win his first major at Wimbledon, just weeks shy of his 22nd birthday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was also born in August (1998) and yesterday won the Nitto ATP Tour Finals at 21, he is currently ranked six in the world but was ranked as high as 5 in August.

The Greek’s best major result to date is the semi in Australia this year. He also made fourth round at Wimbledon, Roland Garros and 2r at US Open.

At 21, Federer lost first round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and made 4R at the other two. Federer made two major quarterfinals the year before in 2001 and actually regressed in his major results from age 2001 to 2002 but he of course won Wimbledon in 2003.

So a case can be made that Stefanos Tsitsipas is actually the better player at age 21 than Roger Federer. Slightly more accomplished, slightly more consistent in his Grand Slam results.

Federer won his first World Tour Finals in 2003 and finished that year ranked no. 2 behind Andy Roddick. Federer won his first Masters Series title in Hamburg in 2002.

So the comparisons of Federer and Tsitsipas at the same age is very, very close. Up to age 21, Tsitsipas may be ahead by a nose. But obviously Tsitsipas has a lot of work ahead of him in the following years if he wants to continue to progress at a Roger Federer rate.

Tsitsipas will need to win his first major in 2020 and then add two or three majors per year for the following five years to just keep pace with King Roger.

Can he do it? Can Tsitsipas even surpass the Federer Grand Slam success explosion after age 21 to 26 (Federer won one major in 2010, none in 2011, one in 2012 and none from 2013-2106).



  • Hartt · November 19, 2019 at 8:51 am

    With our discussions here about social media I thought what Stefanos said in his press conference was interesting. He was asked about his taking a break from social media and the youngster replied that he did not miss it. He was even bothered by seeing Patrick M checking his phone and seeing the pictures on it. He said it was a distraction and there had been times when he thought about something on social media even when he was playing. So a good explanation of how social media can be detrimental to a tennis player.

  • catherine · November 19, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Social media can be detrimental to everyone. There are a few books being published now by the people who invented it and now want to disinvent the monster they created. Too late.

    Patrick was probably checking to see how many pictures there were of himself πŸ™‚

  • Hartt · November 19, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Stefanos does not lack ambition.

    “In an interview to Socrates Stefanos Tsitsipas was asked how he would like to be remembered in the future. “It should be read: the former world No. 1, or even better, the greatest player of all time”, the ATP Finals champion said.” (Tennis World)

  • Andrew Miller · November 19, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Nah. Federer was better. We forget how good these guys were, talking seventeen, eighteen years ago. Hewitt would have feasted on the Tsitsipas serve. Tsitsipas is very good. He has the worst serve I’ve seen for a top player in a while, somewhat like Dementieva in that his goal is just to start the point. His serve has no other purpose and given player reluctance to change serves (outside of Nadal, who improves it and then his serve needs a correction as bad habits come back) he’s going to be compensating with other parts of his game for a while.

    Rest of the Tsitsipas game is quite nice. He has the same joy of any top player after winning, a mega watt smile that lights up a stadium. It’s nice to see another one hander that can handle the pressure.

    My opinion and I am often wrong, there are a lot of good players. Whoever is drawing first blood now only does just that. The biggest thing happening on the men’s tour is the young guys are beginning to believe they have a chance. That should motivate them to work harder – not to beat the big three – but to beat each other and out do each other. It’s the competitive nature that matters – how badly they want the next win and how hard they are willing to work to make sure it’s them at the finish line.

    I believe a lot of players that have a say in this weren’t in London. Scoop pointed out the “veteran” move by Shapovalov to hire Youzhny (and that is a veteran move!). If I were Shapo heck hire a SECOND veteran to help with another aspect. Just keep building. And hit the gym and or track and ball machine so that the game holds up. Pull some Lendl moves.

    FelixAA might have overwhelmed himself this year, getting to finals and getting so close to tasting ATP tour titles, maybe well before he was ready to “seal the deal”. I’ve heard he hits practice courts after matches and hope he and his coaches review tape. FelixAA owned Tsitsipas until only very recently. And given his loss he’ll want to get that back.

    There are many many young guys now that sense opportunity. Monfils and other veterans do too, like Fognini, and they’re in better position to get some good titles, but the younger guys may be more hungry.

    I expect we will get the equivalent of a sentimental win by a fan favorite or another big run to semifinals by a player fans have always liked or appreciated. This is the last few years that kind of player can do this before the opportunity disappears for them and retirement looks more appealing than dying on the court.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 19, 2019 at 9:48 am

    Andrew, Raonic went all in on the veteran coaching hiring and it helped, it helped get him get to 3 or 4 in the world. He knocked on the door but the door didn’t open. Shap is rising now with Youzhny, so he may be enough. If he stagnates again, then yes, call Rios or Muster.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 19, 2019 at 9:51 am

    Hartt, Tsitsipas has the best mindset of the young players, he is saying he wants to exceed Federer, Nadal and Djokovic with that statement. That takes major courage and confidence. He will be resented by Fed, Rafa and Djokovic for saying that in public. But to declare war on the elites is the only way to dethrone them from power. I believe in Tsitsipas. He can exceed the big three.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 19, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Hartt, that’s interesting that Tsitsipas publicly rebuked Mouratoglou. Combine that with the new ATP article about Apostolous Tsitsipas being Stefanos only coach is another rebuke of Mouratoglou. It’s clear now that Mouratoglou is only hosting Tsitsipas at his academy and not coaching him at all. He’s riding Tsitsipas coattails by sitting in his box and creating the illusio he’s a co-coach. Apostolous made NO MENTION of Mouratoglou coaching in the new ATP site article.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 19, 2019 at 9:55 am

  • Andrew Miller · November 19, 2019 at 11:35 am

    How about this: Medvedev could be the “Chang” of the next gen. Just food for thought.

  • Andrew Miller · November 19, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Congratulations Scoop!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 19, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks Andrew, there will never be another Michael Chang, Medvedev has his own style and athleticism. He will have his own career. I don’t see a 17 year old ever winning a major and then never winning another. Chang’s journey was unique.

  • Jon King · November 19, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Love Tsitsipas and the greek goddess Sakkari. The only thing preventing Stefanos from surpassing Fed is a private plane!!

  • Andrew Miller · November 19, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    My theory is the next Nadal will be a WTA player. You never know who the next Sampras is – the next Sampras became Nadal, Djokovic, Federer etc. Never who we think it is.

  • Hartt · November 19, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    This so so exciting! After wins against Fognini and Berrettini yesterday, Pospisil defeated Opelka and Shapo defeated Fritz, both in SS. This is the first time Canada has ever defeated the US in Davis Cup.

    Now the team is in the QFs and will play the winner of Group D.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Andrew, which player does cracked crystal ball see ascending?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Paul McNamee very irked by canada tanking the doubles to usa, feels a principle was compromised. The countback points could end up helping usa get back into it.

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 9:10 am

    I agree that Canada should have played the doubles. It was not fair to Italy in particular. It sounds like Dancevic wanted to protect his players, and you can understand that, but with Schnur injured FAA and Shapo could have played the doubles, unless Felix’s ankle injury is more problematic than they are letting on.

    But this does show a big problem with the format. It is way too condensed, with teams having to play 3 matches in one day and some matches going extremely late. The doubles between Spain and Russia did not even begin until after midnight, and the Spanish players have to play again today.

    If there are injuries it means the same players have to play multiple matches in one day. And, at the end of a long season, so much tennis will result in injured players.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Scoop, my cracked crystal ball has shattered and I’m sweeping up the pieces.
    – Big three may be tired from short off season, but will benefit from “a match every other day” format of Australian. Djokovic may or may not be “fully restored” as he came back too soon from injury. Federer has looked more vulnerable lately. Crowd support will be on side of the big three.

    – Thiem showed a lot this off season, arguably as much as Tsitsipas and Medvedev. Expect Thiem to slam in 2020. Medvedev has cooled off somewhat and beaten silly every match of ATP finals, which casts some doubt on whether he will conjure up his Nalbandian-like magic again. He went zero for three, and also lost early in Paris. That’s four straight losses, so he’s not entering 2020 well.

    – Expect the “sentimental” favorites such as Monfils, Tsonga, perhaps Dimitrov has moved into the role of sentimental favorite vet, Gasquet to put in some enjoyable performances. Dimitrov may be a contender as he seems to have rediscovered he’s a formidable player.

    – Among next gen I think they had a very good 2019. I believe they still get shut out of slams in 2020. That’s even with Medvedev getting within twelve points of a US Open title, and with next gen players making Masters finals or winning Masters titles. I think for now they are all versions of Kyrgios: love the big stage but may not escape the outer limits of the early rounds.

    – I expect next gen that are lower profile to sneak up on players. Shapovalov and Felix,and even Fritz, Struff, Tiafoe, Sinner, De Minaur (De Minaur still best here – most titles, most finals, most heart), I think they make things interesting. While the big guys are soaking up the attention, these are the guys that are not and can do most away from the spotlight. Like James Blake sneaking up on the field a long time ago.

    – No prediction for women. Serena I think makes another slam finals. I like Svitolina chance, Konta to maybe make a final? Bencic, good bet for a final. Not clear whether the new powers of Osaka, Andreescu shut everyone out, or Kvitova finds her form long enough, Pliskova cares, etc. Bencic. I think Bencic makes a final.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Muguruza: (…). Probably not. Some players with the most talent on either tour are radioactive.

    Yastremska? No. Another version of Giorgi.

    Sabalenka? No. Only wins in China.

    I think the WTA top players pretty firmly in place now. Maybe an uber talent like Muchova gets a larger fan base because of her extraordinary range and ability. That would help her.

    Stephens? All depends on her.

    Keys: (…)

    Kenin: Maybe. So aggressive. Works so hard.

    Many things could erupt on WTA tour. It’s fluid situation so could have another few breakout players.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Maybe a US men’s player gets top ten. There’s no sign of that.

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Do0mi and Kiki no longer an item. Kiki’s absence during ATP Finals was significant. Stress through travel etc blamed. (T-T so believe if you like)

    Sascha has new gf. To go with new haircut.

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Andrew, you are a brave man, making these predictions. I am working on my predictions for ATP top 10 next season, but am not even going to try to do that for the WTA.

    I did not do too badly for 2019. I got 4 of the top 5, although not the actual order. I had Novak, Sascha, Rafa, Dominic and Fed. Obviously Fed did better than I’d expected and Sascha worse.

    I did not get any of the next 5. Injuries played havoc with those predictions, with players like Delpo and Anderson out for much of the season. And I wrongly thought Stefanos would have a sophomore slump.

    This is subject to change (anytime before the start of the new season). But at the moment I have: Novak, Rafa, Dominic, Stefanos, Sascha, Fed, Daniil, Shapo, and Matteo for the top 9. 10th spot is between Kei (if not injured), Stan and Karen.

    I am predicting that de Minaur, FAA and Rublev will make top 15. And that Fritz, Sinner and Pospisil will all go up significantly in the rankings.

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

    There have been rumours about the Dominic and Kiki split for a few days now. It did seem significant when she did not go to the final of the ATP Finals when Dominic was playing. A couple days ago I checked their Instagrams and neither congratulated the other on their recent results, so I figured the rumours were right.

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Kiki loses her coach and her boyfriend both in a month or so – makes her performance in the Fed Cup seem more valiant than ever.

    Apparently Kiki and Domi deleted each others’ IG’s.

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 10:51 am

    Hartt – you are an IG spy πŸ™‚

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Don’t think either will be ‘single’ for very long. Domi’s next gf won’t be a player, I bet.

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 11:10 am

    No one predicts Simona to win anything ? Even with Cahill in the box ?

    IMO predictions are a waste of time – but Andrew, if Konta reaches a big final I shall stand on my head in Trafalgar Square.

    I’m still waiting for Bajin to pop up somewhere. The suspense is killing me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

    Catherine you are turning this site into Tonic Tennis lite with all the gossip, let’s talk more forehands and backhands and less who is holding hands with who πŸ™‚

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Scoop – I don’t believe you – I’m not the person who deals most in gossip on the site – or tattle about who leads the most spectacular sex life.

    I’m not the only one who noted the the Domi/Kiki split – and I haven’t got anything more to say about that.

    So forehands and backhands by all means – except I’m not really interested in the Davis Cup so won’t be posting about that. I’m following Fed and Sascha around SAmerica.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Mladenovic, I’d like her to do well in 2020. She’s jilted player of 2019. I hope this is her motivation, prove her doubters wrong, nothing personal for her opponents just slam before Thiem. Would be awesome. Imagine that a victory speech where she says and I’d like to thank Thiem and Sacha because you didn’t believe in me I found people that did so thanks you jerks!

    Would be epic. Doubt it happens but would be epic and I’d welcome that as a tennis fan and observer!!!

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 11:56 am

    Andrew – I do so agree – I’d love to see Kiki rocket into the top 10 (unlikely) and spearhead France to another Fed Cup. USA play Latvia in Washington among the qualifiers – and Germany have to travel to Brazil. Without Kerber I bet.

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Andrew, why does it have to be Dominic who ended their relationship? Maybe it was Kiki.

    I think predictions are fun, as long as we don’t take them too seriously. So many unexpected things can happen that we will never get many right, but it is amusing to try.

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Reem Abulleil tweeted several comments by Shapo. He sounds very positive about many things, including the state of his game. He won a very tight match vs Berrettini and had a pretty straightforward win over Fritz, so he should be feeling good.

    “Shapovalov: I feel like I’m in really good shape and of course the confidence is high, especially beating Matteo yesterday shows again that my game is there, so in those tough moments, in those tough holds, I was able to play some amazing points, so hopefully that can continue.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Sounds like Thiem and Mladenovic had a mutual parting unlike the alleged techniques by a certain Canadian heartbreaker who had her then unnamed boyfriend fly up from Florida to Montreal airport so she could break up with him to his face.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Hartt thanks for sharing those Shapovalov cliches, they are somewhat insightful.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 12:26 pm

    Catherine, I was just joking πŸ™‚ Feel free to say what you want anytime!

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Scoop – ok – I don’t believe everything I see on T-T but I somehow got the feeling when Kiki didn’t turn up in London – and that pairing got so much publicity. Maybe too much. Moral – stay off IG πŸ™‚

    Seriously – I’m curious as to where Sascha Bajin turns up next. I believe Muguruza is still without a coach πŸ™‚

  • Hartt · November 20, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Strycova announced that David Kotyza would no longer be her coach in a gracious way. After talking about what they had achieved, she wrote:

    “David is one of the best coaches in the Czech Republic and because my tennis retirement is approaching, I found it a little selfish to keep him at all costs.

    “David, thanks for the hard work, for all the advice, and for your patience. It was a ride, it was up and down and it was great!” (WTA site)

    I hope someone does a chart of the WTA coaching changes. It will be impossible to keep track of them otherwise.

  • catherine · November 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Hartt – that would suggest someone else is after Kotyza – I wonder if it is Pliskova because I haven’t heard she’s hired anyone else – unless I’ve missed it which is easy enough to do in the WTA coaching whirligig.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Hartt: I don’t know. People seem to break Mladenovic heart. Maybe it’s otherwise, and Mladenovic has issues. Maybe just young people. My sense of watching Mladenovic is that she’s an excited, intense person who flourishes with support. I’ll also go ahead and say that she’s a good looking player. I saw her hitting with Bouchard and Mladenovic struck me as very decent. Bouchard struck me as a harder worker at that point than has been credited to her (by me too – Bouchard is a confusing player).

    Some Canadian reporters weren’t right about her in terms of her practice, she hits with anyone she can at a tournament, male, female whoever. Contrast that with Giorgi:

    “Hey do you want to hit with Christina? (McHale)” (from McHale’s coach).

    Giorgi: Shakes her head. McHale is like a court right next to her, no dividers or anything!

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    Bajin,a coach with issues.

    It was really great. I learned a lot and I hope she did a bit too. Her whole family is truly some of the nicest people you meet on tour,” Sascha Bajin announced on social media.

    β€œI am sad and it broke my heart that I choose not to continue but I had to think about myself. It’s selfish I admit that but if you don’t think bout what’s best for yourself who else will …? I wish her truly nothing but the best.”

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Something to appreciate about Tennis Tonic: how thoroughly they embellish some things and miss the story. But I like reading it anyways. Sometimes the tabloid stuff is enjoyable.

    I have been enjoying Scoop’s dishing on the former Canadian wunderkind. She should write a book: Wimbledoned: I made the Wimbledon final, then I lost in Toronto, I slipped in the shower in New York, and I’m now an internet sensation. The true story of why I’m not playing great tennis these days.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Bajin hits the book tour next as his book in Japanese gets translated or something. Has chapters:
    – I’m not just a hitting partner
    – Why do players not credit me?
    – Serena vs Osaka: why who’s the better player isn’t the right question
    – How to do your players laundry right the first time

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Sources are impeccable Andrew. Tennis insider who gets the scoops from the players. Direct access. Totally reliable iron clad source 100% trust based on years.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Hartt my predictions are pretty safe sadly. I have my favorites, but have kept them out of this. I’ll say I’ve enjoyed seeing the “new world of tennis” this year and as a fan am surprised by the complete front and backcourt games of many players on the men’s and women’s tours.

    The women’s tour “seems” more volatile, and has more of a “anyone could win this tournament”. The men’s tour, even as the big three show up in fewer finals than usual (still a massive amount) still make other players quake, so I think how they play still affects what we get in any tournament. Aka tournaments are more on their racquets than on the racquets of their opponents.

    Lendl stuck around forever to torment many players. These three guys are all better than Lendl (much better) and will thwart opponents until they fracture a hip etc.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    Scoop to me it’s just funny. For all I know X player loses at Y tournament BECAUSE of the Canadian…or wins πŸ˜‰ I’ve heard that a few times even from Renae Stubbs who said for female players, if whatever you’re doing takes place while you’re winning and as players are superstitious they keep doing it. Even if it’s a mess personally!!!

    Yeah she said that. And yes she was referring to super brief player relationships.

    Anyways not my thing. I like knowing the more full story because it helps explain why a player is serious or not etc. The Canadian is serious then not whatsoever. So I tend to believe: player not interested in the sport anymore.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Or like Hartt said, Shapovalov is happy and playing well and the off court healthy relationship is encouraging him to be serious on court. Win win. Bjorklund seems to enjoy the status boost and the same health in her low ranking heading in the right direction.

    Bjorklund gets more mentions on this site…for no reason. And it’s my fault!!!

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Exactly Andrew, a true and honest news source like this has to be committed to the truth and not just sugar coating. The public wants to know more and needs to know more and we try our best here to give tennis enthusiasts the most bang for their bucks and support and loyalty.

  • Andrew Miller · November 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Scoop, yes I think a complete picture is helpful. Example, Boris Becker one year in Miami went to the beach or spent tons of time at the beach. Promptly lost early at the tournament. Court surface is pretty fast in Miami, so suits the B. Becker game well.

    It’s a generic example. Just says everything adds up. Do I truly care that so and so player is a home wrecker? Somewhat – I’d prefer no one be that way. But, if it explains the game that unfolds on a day, sure. Player A didn’t do well today because for some time Player A has not been serious and Player A has taken a different direction with their career as their off court interests or love interests have drowned out their passion for the game.

    Unfair to say, but if you’re all about your off court image than you’re not going to die on the court. Your opponent will be happy because they don’t care.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 20, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Remember the year Djokovic lost to Anderson 1R in Miami before Anderson was a top player, Djokovic was seen partying with Sharapova and another girl or her friend Camilla Belle. The logical assumption was Djokovic was partying with a pair of beauties too hard and it resulted in him losing to Anderson which was a bad loss at the time. So off court activities do effect on court performance. The Djokovic cheating on his wife at Wimbledon with Bouchard resulted in the loss to Querrey the next week.

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