Stefanos Tsitsipas takes a big step in development with first Challenger title

Tsitsipas is very comfortable on clay (Zimbio.com)

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas is a highly rated teenager, a Next Gen player with talent that might compare to the likes of Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev, who are already making waves in the Top 100. Tsitsipas took a big step in joining them in that highly coveted group by winning his first Challenger title in Genova, Italy.

The title, besides being Tsitsipas’ first at this level, is important for a number of reasons. The Genova event sits in the highest echelon of Challenger events. Offering nearly £18,000 to the winner and the maximum 125 points that a Challenger can provide.

The run saw Tsitsipas dominate the tournament, winning the event without dropping a set. He defeated top seed Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals before beating an injury-hampered Marton Fucsovics in the semis. A 7-5, 7-5, win over the unseeded, but former Grand Slam seed Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the final is testament to the kind of game that Tsitsipas can play when he is in form.

A former finalist at the Orange Bowl, and a former Junior No.1, and Wimbledon Junior Doubles Champion, Tsitsipas already has a number of junior accolades to his name. Yet the Challenger title is his highest at the professional level to date.

The title is timely, as it now takes the pressure off Tsitsipas’ results from this time last year. He is fast approaching a period where he made two Challenger finals last year, back-to-back in Morocco.

The win in Genova puts Tsitsipas at No.120 in the ATP world rankings, a new career-high. Should he win another Challenger title in the next few weeks it would likely be enough to propel him into the Top 100 for the first time. The win also puts Tsitsipas in late contention to challenge for a place in the inaugural ATP Next Gen finals in Milan. He sits 16th currently in the rankings to qualify for that tournament.

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