Backhand changes? Too much pressure? What went wrong for Stefanos Tsitsipas against Holger Rune at French Open?
Tim Henman, Alex Corretja and Mats Wilander analysed the reasons behind Stefanos Tsitsipas' shock French Open loss to Holger Rune and what changes the world No. 4 can make to his game. Last year's runner-up was beaten in four sets by the 19-year-old and Henman says it looks like he has been "playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders" recently.
'He needs to play points that are much shorter! - Wilander on Tsitsipas changes
“With the backhand side he struggles because he doesn’t move his wrist as much as he should and that’s why Rune was hitting so hard to his backhand.
“I also feel that if Tsitsipas wants to play against these guys who hit the ball so hard he needs to know how to slice better. If you defend in front it’s bad, you need to let the ball come to you, then you can get it back into the other slowly to give you time to recover, if you hit it harder you have no time. With a two-handed backhand it’s easier, that’s why he was complaining about his return too.”
'It was ridiculous' - Emotional Tsitsipas reacts to surprise defeat to Rune
Tsitsipas had already been pushed hard at the tournament, fighting back from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round.
He also slammed his racquet to the ground after overcoming Zdenek Kolar in four sets in the second round.
“In the last few weeks he looks like he has been playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders,” said former British No. 1 Henman.
Highlights: Rune stuns Tsitsipas in huge upset at French Open to reach quarter-finals
“He has struggled to fight through matches, second round he won and then slammed his racquet down, whether he is putting too much pressure on himself, he has been in a Grand Slam final and hasn’t won one yet.
“After the match then you would expect the pressure valve to be released but he seems very stressed about it and is obviously very disappointed.
“There are a few issues he needs to address so he is clear in his mind over the way he wants to play the game. You would say there are a lot of very good pieces to the puzzle but they are not coming together now and that must be frustrating because he is seeing some of the other players taking advantage. He was the clear favourite today but he has gone out.”
Mats Wilander also thinks Tsitsipas needs to change his approach on the backhand.
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“He is sticking to a gameplan and not changing it when he needs. It was clear early on that if he plays defence on the backhand he is not going to win because Rune’s forehand is the perfect inside-out forehand and can get to Tsitsipas’ backhand every time.
“If he is not going to slice it he has to take a rip at it to control some of the points. The return of serve, he has to make up his mind, he has to chip some returns. If he goes backwards and returns high then they are going to return high to his backhand and now he struggles because he has to hit high one-handed backhands, and only one person who could do that very well was Guga Kuerten. He could rip it from anywhere.
“Tsitsipas’ backhand is not worse than it was but he is relying too much on his forehand. He needs to go towards the ball on the backhand and he needs to play points that are much shorter, two or three shots and then over, not 15 or 20 shots.”
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