Roger Federer has inspired many youngsters to step on the tennis court and chase their dreams. Stefanos Tsitsipas was one of them, daring to dream despite coming from a non-tennis nation. Stefanos watched Roger's conquest of his second consecutive Wimbledon title in 2004, wishing to follow the Swiss' path and chase notable titles with a one-handed backhand.
Federer and Tsitsipas played four encounters in 2019, and their H2H score will stay at 2-2. Roger has decided to retire at the upcoming Laver Cup in London in ten days, struggling with a knee injury and failing to recover enough to continue his career.
Stefanos shared a heartful message with his fans, saying many nice words about the Swiss maestro and thanking him for everything he has done for the game. Federer gave his best to extend his career after three knee surgeries, but his retirement became inevitable after recent issues.
Stefanos will have a chance to spend time with Roger in London, representing Team Europe and seeking the fifth Laver Cup title. Tsitsipas and Federer had a busy schedule in 2019, facing four times and splitting victories. The young Greek stunned Federer in four tight sets at the Australian Open before Roger bounced back a few weeks later in the Dubai final.
Federer toppled Tsitsipas in the semi-final in Basel before the young gun served revenge in the ATP Finals semi-final. Also, two rivals battled on the same side of the court in September during the Laver Cup. Tsitsipas and Federer played against Jack Sock and John Isner and suffered a tight 5-7, 6-4, 10-8 loss in an hour and 46 minutes.
Instead of Rafael Nadal, who withdrew with a wrist injury, Tsitsipas stepped in to play with Federer for the first time. There were two breaks on each side, and Jack and John stayed focused in the crucial moments to repel six out of eight chances offered to their rivals and control the pace in the deciding set.
The Americans broke the European team when Federer sprayed a volley mistake in the opening set's third game.
Stefanos Tsitsipas honored Roger Federer.
Roger and Stefanos pulled the break back instantly when Isner landed a volley long, and Federer fired an ace to bring the next game home at love.
The Americans wasted their chances on serve in game 12 and suffered a break after Federer's volley winner, as Team Europe grabbed the opener 7-5 in 45 minutes. Isner made an incredible reaction at the net in the second set's third game to earn a break for Team World.
Jack fended off a break chance in the next one to confirm the lead and put them in a comfortable position. Serving for the set at 5-4, Isner defended two break opportunities and sealed it with an ace to send the clash into a match tie break.
The Americans forged a 7-4 lead before Federer bounced back with two winners to keep his team in touch and the crowd on the edge of their seats. Jack responded with a service winner before Roger smashed a forehand winner to reduce the deficit to 8-7.
Sock's return winner pushed the red squad 9-7 ahead, and Federer saved the first match point after a volley winner at the net. Isner landed a massive serve towards Tsitsipas in the 18th point to seal the deal and send Team World in front for the first time in three days before the remaining three clashes.
"He came. We saw. He conquered. We admired. Thank you, Roger, for elevating our sport to an unfathomable extent. For making this sport look so damn effortless but complicated to emulate at the same time. Your style, personality, talent, finesse and passion will be remembered in the game of tennis forever!
I can not thank you enough for being the reason I pursued tennis in the first place and play a one-handed backhand today. The reason I dreamt for the first time watching you lift that Wimbledon trophy in 2004. To truly "federize" someone, you must dominate them and do that with class and style.
Thanks to you, Roger, that can be found in the Urban Dictionary. Proud and honored to be part of "The Last Dance" by your side," Stefanos Tsitsipas said.