Stefanos Tsitsipas is carrying a lot of momentum going into just his third appearance at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. On Sunday, the World No. 5 captured his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, and he has more trophies on his mind already.
“It feels like a very big moment,” he said. “It’s in the back of my head that I really enjoy the feeling this title gave me, and I’ve wanted this for a long time.”
On the heels of the Monte-Carlo win and with a 6-2 record in Barcelona, the second seed is going to feel very at home this week. In 2018, Tsitsipas was just one win away from the Barcelona crown in his first ATP Tour-level final appearance.
“My first final here was the beginning of my journey on the ATP Tour and I had a great run,” Tsitsipas said. “I would say back then I was 18, 19 years old. I just got introduced to the ATP Tour and having a run like this was at the top of my appearances.”
Tsitsipas would receive a lesson from Nadal that week, winning just three games in his first showdown against the Spaniard (Nadal currently leads their ATP Head2Head Series 6-2).
“It didn’t go my way, but I think I learned a lot from that match, and he seems to be liking the conditions here in Barcelona, so it’s quite amazing,” Tsitsipas said. “The 11 titles that he has had here in Barcelona [are] very inspiring. I really hope I can get half of that one day.”
Last week in Monte-Carlo, the 22-year-old went 9-0 in sets and dismissed Andrey Rublev in the final after the Russian ousted Nadal in the quarter-finals.
“That’s the reason I chose this sport: I always wanted to be close to winning these titles,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s also the reason why I love tennis from a young age. I saw all these amazing players like Nadal, [Roger] Federer and [Novak] Djokovic play in these Masters series events and the Grand Slams and I wanted to be like them. To be in that position is more than humbling.”
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Tsitsipas is currently in a loftier position than anyone: He’s No. 1 in the Fedex ATP Race To Turin.
“Right now, being in the top position of the Race, that’s very important to me and I think I can somehow take advantage of it and see it as a great thing to have behind me,” Tstisipas said. “I’m going to try to use that and add points week by week. I see opportunities.”
After Barcelona, Tsitsipas will play in Madrid and Rome before heading to Paris. While he has one ATP Masters 1000 in the books, Tsitsipas has his work cut out for him if he wants to catch up to the Big Three—Djokovic holds the record for the most ATP Masters 1000s with 36, with Nadal close behind at 35 and Federer at 28.
At the ATP 500 in Barcelona, Tsitsipas opens against Jaume Munar on Wednesday.