"It was the only time in my life that I felt I was a few seconds from dying...my perspective about everything changed...my brain changed...it helped me realize what tennis is all about..." is what 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas from Greece had explained to the atpworldtour media about his experience with a few friends going out to sea and swimming on a day off from a Futures event; then getting almost swallowed up by the rough waves and turbulence.
Tsitsipas may have gotten another revelation and appreciation about tennis when he defeated the no. 7 ranked Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals in Barcelona, a player that many have longed to win over but never could.
The young Greek came into this event with a good resume for a teen, having captured two Orange Bowl finals in 2013-2015, being ranked the numbert 1 junior in the world and having great matches on the junior tour winning the 2016 Wimbledon Boys doubles event with partner Kenneth Raisma.
Tsitsipas had his father Apostolos and his mother Julija Salnikova, a Russian former WTA player ranked no. 194 in the world in 1980 to be his long-standing coaches. He won the Trofeo Bonfiglio event in Milan, Italy and just last year made his Grand slam debut at the French Open beating Thomas Fabbiano among a few others to qualify for the main draw, as a result losing to Ivo Karlovic in stratight sets.
He was consistent enough at the 2017 Wimbledon to defeat Santiago Giraldo, Yannick Hapfmann and Joris De Loore to participate in the main draw despite losing in straight sets at the opening round. Tsitsipas also qualifed at the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals as an alternate player.
He has gained much of his experience at ATP Challengers winning 6 singles and 6 doubles titles. He is currently ranked no. 63 on the ATP tour and has the capabilities of rising higher in a matter of months. Tsitsipas is slowly covering ground with having success over top ranked players and has defeated ATP's no.
10 David Goffin at the 2017 Antwerp quarterfinals in 3 sets and days ago upsetting Austria's Dominic Thiem ranked no. 7 at the Barcelona Open in straight sets. One of his tennis idols is Canada's Denis Shapovalov who himself has a Russian mother as Tsitsipas.
But it's all in good faith of climbing the ATP ranks for the two have played each other last year and Shapovalov has defeated Tsitsipas in the 2017 Roland Garros quarterfinals and the Wimbledon semifinal in the same year.
The young promising star has detailed his survival from the rough waters of the sea as saying that "...after a few minutes of fighting we found a rock where we could actually stand and get a few breaths..." Stefanos Tsitsipas will experience his few minutes of fighting, in fact it may be hours of fighting to regain the lead in a match, but he will know how to survive and eventually win through tough tactics and strategies.
Tsitsipas is slowly becoming stronger competition to all on the ATP tour and will climb the ranks like others did to become a better and more confident player.