In some ways, Stefanos Tsitsipas's success in the tennis elite did not surprise Patrick Mouratoglou, who regularly observes the 20-year-old Athens native off the competition at his Academy.
"I discovered him on YouTube", Mouratoglou, Serena Williams's coach, revealed speaking to Le Figaro after Tsitsipas's Australian Open run that ended in the semifinals. "He was 16 years old.
I loves what I saw. I liked his gamestyle. I understood straight forward that he had a great potential. I also learned he is Greek and I have Greek origins. So I contacted his father, who was his coach as well, and I offered him to come to my academy for a week.
They came and they never left." Before turning his focus to tennis, Tsitsipas had also tried to become a professional football star. His uncle Sergei Salnikov was the URSS attacker and the Olympic champion in 1956.
But tennis was obvious. His mother, Julia Apostoli-Salnikova, was a former Fed Cup player for the Soviet Union and his father Apostolos coached her for a long time." Before his appearance at the Sofia Open, Tsitsipas had said: "I’m excited to play in front of the Bulgarian fans, to see all of you, coming to watch the great matches during this week.
So come and support me. For me, it will be a great opportunity. I would be very grateful to have you on my side – as you know, we are neighbours – Greece and Bulgaria. I will also be happy the Greek people to come and support me – to give me some energy and motivation during the tournament.
See you soon, Sofia."