"Never experienced something like this in my life...I feel very disappointed at the end. (It's been a) long time since I cried after a match...I will try to learn from it as much as I can," Stefanos Tsitsipas had said concerning his five-set battle with Stan Wawrinka at the Roland Garros fourth round.
It was at the finish line, five hours in that he was mad at it all; not being able to lessen his unforced errors at 48; not coming up with better strategies and not coming up with the victory. The young Greek sits right smack in the middle of a strong resume of performances that many can't profess they've done or ever will do.
He's defeated Rafael Nadal in this year's Madrid semifinal and had quite the opposite feeling and emotions saying "I'm really happy I proved myself today and played one of my best games...I'm fighting.
I'm in the zone..." But Tsitsipas is a chronic figher, playing gritty and fierce to win the point, game or match no matter what. He started a feisty season defeating Roger Federer at the Australian Open's round of 16.
It was then Nadal in Madrid as well as Alexander Zverev in the same tournament proving that the lightning bolt of Tsitsipas can strike once and even twice on the top rankers. The Greek lost to Novak Djokovic for the Madrid title.
It was a straight set lost that left him a bit down. He had beaten the Serb in the 2018 Rogers Cup in their first meeting and in the same event whipped up Dominic Thiem in straight sets. Stefanos Tsitsipas isn't settled with revenge matches but just knows that the wins are so great and the losses are horrible.
"Worse thing in tennis. It's the worst feeling ever. Especially when you lose. You don't want to be in my place," Tsitsipas had said on bowing in his match with Wawrinka. Was it the loss itself or the sets and chances that had slipped through his racket during those 48 unforced errors? It's possible the entire situation bowled over Tsitsipas into a ravelling tennis opponent wanting more and at the end, getting less.
It takes dealing with the losses and moving on and for Stefanos Tsitsipas he'll have to work on that as one of his things to accomplish on a bucket list of tennis situations that seems to be growing with each tournament.
The young Greek came into the Madrid tournament no. 15 and walked out at number 8. Roland Garros he came in at number 6. Tsitsipas is the youngest guy on the ATP tour in the top 10, a strong accomplishment despite the losses.
This may just be the time that he picks himself up, brushes the red clay off his clothes and get ready for the green grass season of tennis. He should be ready to fight and claw his way up again. He should be glad to know he's gotten so far up a tough and bumpy ranking ladder.
The grass may look greener on the other side, but Tsitsipas will certainly be there to battle again his opponents one by one and maybe accomplish many more victories and a title. He will smile again and hold up a trophy showing his win while the guy next to him may be saying in his own head "I was so close, so close."