Stefanos Tsitsipas shocks himself with brilliant comeback win over Gael Monfils

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Tsitsipas is the hottest thing in men's tennis at the moment. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 March 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas shocks himself with brilliant comeback win over Gael Monfils

  • Greek wondered comes back from a set down at the Aviation Club to win three-set thriller
  • Now faces Roger Federer in a much-anticipated final.

LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas was at a loss to explain how he beat Gael Monfils to reach the Dubai Tennis Championship final on Saturday.
The Greek hero came from a set down to beat the Frenchman 4-6, 7-6, 7-6 and after saving 11 of 14 break points, it is fair to say Tsitsipas did it the hard way. He went into the semifinal clash tired and worried fatigue would deal an ace at any hope he would make the final at the Aviation Club. But having illustrated it will take a lot for him to back down, Tsitsipas admitted he was shocked to beat Monfils.
“I just played. I just played tennis,” he said.
“I was probably a bit more concentrated than usual. I didn’t want to give it to him. That’s why I saved those breakpoints.
“I entered the semifinal, I was so tired. I could feel my body. I don’t know, I was not expecting much from me, to be honest. I was just playing.
“My main focus was not to go too much. If you would play good shots, usually I would run for them, give 100 percent. But I felt like my body will crack if I do that again.”

The victory that took two hours 59 minutes extended Tsitsipas’ winning streak to eight matches and only served to underline his status as tennis’ rising star. Since he beat Roger Federer at the Australian Open earlier this year the 20-year-old has been labeled the next “big thing” to challenge the sensational trio of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and the Swiss. He won in Marseilles last week and now has a chance to land his third title. Whatever the result on Saturday, the Greek will enter the top 10 and one suspects he will stay there for a long time.
When he was in Dubai in December, Tsitsipas revealed his goals for the year, two of which were to reach the semis of a Grand Slam and the world’s top 10. In just 14 matches in 2019 he has already achieved both of those aims. And after the “sweet and tasty” win over Monfils the Greek star said the win was more significant than simply reaching another final.
“I take a lot from that (victory),” he said.
“I have improved since last year. Beating the big guys, big players, players that have been in the top 10, means a lot to me. I want to get there at some point myself, and I made it today. (It is) probably a special day for Greece.”
“I’m practicing. I’m doing everything, all the hard work I’m doing to face these guys and beat them. That’s my main purpose on court, beat most of the guys all the time I’m facing, some out of the top 100, some inside the top 100, maybe top 50. The biggest joy is to beat the top 10 guys.”

For Monfils, who was 3-0 down in the first set before storming back to win five games in a row to take it 6-4, the defeat was hard to take and one he pinned on his faulty serve.
“In term of the game, I guess I had some opportunities,” the world No. 23 said.
“I couldn’t made them great today. I think I was up a break, and I didn’t serve that good starting the second set. It was big confirmation when he broke me back. Less first serve, less accuracy.”
Like most fans Monfils is in no doubt that Tsitsipas has what it takes to go a long way.
“He’s a great player. He just broke the top 10. He’s one of the best players in the tour,” he said.

Coronavirus pause could force global football to change

Updated 03 April 2020

Coronavirus pause could force global football to change

  • The sudden interruption has exposed the deficiencies of a system intoxicated by huge sums of money

PARIS: Football has ground to a halt due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)  pandemic, and the immediate concern is the simple survival of many clubs because of the financial impact, but there is hope that the global game could ultimately emerge better from this crisis.

“We are living through something none of us were used to and which will change us profoundly,” Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport.

Not since World War II has the sport been forced to stop across Europe. The sudden interruption has exposed the deficiencies of a system intoxicated by huge sums of money.

Cutbacks are inevitable in the short term.

“TV money will go down, players and coaches will earn less. Tickets will cost less because people will have less money. The economy will be different and so will football. Maybe it will be better,” said Ancelotti.

“As with most things, crisis is an opportunity,” football historian and academic David Goldblatt, author of recent book The Age of Football, told AFP, before sounding a warning.

“It could actually get worse. For there to be real change there has to be a change in the way power and ownership is distributed in the game.”

At the moment the financial power belongs to the lucky few at the top, but even they are being hurt. That is likely to affect the transfer market, and huge spending sprees on players could become a thing of the past.

“In two or three years, it will not be possible to spend the sums we have been seeing because every country will be affected. In all likelihood a new footballing world will emerge from this,” insisted former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness.

Already players at Barcelona — the richest club in the world — have agreed to a 70 percent pay cut. Clubs across Europe are taking similar measures.

It is evidence that clubs, even in the elite, have been living on the edge, and it raises the question of whether salary caps could finally be seen as a way forward, despite the difficulties presented by EU rules.

In Germany, the Bundesliga’s four Champions League representatives this season have pledged €20 million ($22 million) to help crisis-hit clubs in an encouraging sign of solidarity.

Meanwhile, lessons may also be learned about how TV revenue is distributed in the future.

It may also be time to rework the fixture calendar. The fashion for expanding existing tournaments — like staging a 48-team World Cup and 24-team Club World Cup — is surely not sustainable.

“It is now high time that we find some rules to say ok, let’s get out of this crisis as well as we can, but let’s also put safeguards in that manage player loads successfully moving forward,” warned Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of global players’ union FIFPro, as he called for “a much healthier setup than we what have had lately.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has acknowledged the calls for change, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that “we can perhaps reform world football by taking a step back. With different formats. Fewer tournaments, maybe fewer teams, but more balanced.”

Goldblatt, meanwhile, believes FIFA need to look again at plans to stage a 48-team World Cup in 2026 all across North America.

That, and the European Championship that UEFA intend to stage in 12 cities across the continent, are being planned in ways which appear at odds with the need to face up to another imminent threat: Climate change.

“If we have learned anything from the last couple of months it is that we should listen to the scientists,” Goldblatt says. “We need to hit the pause button on all of this and have a massive rethink.”