Stefanos Tsitsipas' doctor thought he 'wouldn't play Aus Open' with Djokovic-style injury


Stefanos Tsitsipas admitted his doctor didn’t think he’d be able to play the Australian Open, but is now into his third semi-final. The world No 4 withdrew from the ATP Finals in November with an elbow injury similar to the issue that sidelined Novak Djokovic for half of the 2017 season. The Greek underwent surgery but still wasn’t himself at the ATP Cup earlier this month though has now found his form at the right time.

Tsitsipas overcame world No 10 Jannik Sinner in Wednesday’s quarter-final to reach the last-four in Melbourne for the third time in his young career.

The Greek needed just two hours and six minutes to seal a convincing 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over the dangerous young Italian, and will now face the winner of a clash between highest men’s seed Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

But speaking after his victory over Sinner, the world No 4 admitted his own doctor didn’t believe he’d recover in time to play this year’s Australian Open.

Tsitsipas was forced to pull out of the season-ending finals in November with an elbow injury, later undergoing surgery during the off-season.

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The 23-year-old’s right elbow issue was very similar to an injury world No 1 Novak Djokovic battled during the second half of the 2017 season, which forced him to end the year after Wimbledon and eventually undergo a medical procedure.

But Tsitsipas struggled on his return at the ATP Cup earlier this month and was forced to withdraw from some of the singles events for Team Greece, admitting he didn’t know whether he’d be ready for the Aussie Open.

Speaking after Diego Schwartzman defeated him 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3 at the team event, the world No 4 said: “I really don‘t know how I’m going to feel tomorrow,” he said. “That was one of the biggest concerns if I was going to play this match today, how the recovery is going to be tomorrow. I finished the doubles [on Saturday] and the next day I couldn’t serve. I was in a lot of pain.”

And addressing his Australian Open chances, he thought there was still enough time to prepare but didn’t know how he’d fare, adding: “That is enough [recovery time], I believe. But I haven‘t had [this kind of injury] before, so I don’t know. It’s my first time experiencing something like this.”

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But it appears Tsitsipas had nothing to worry about because he has been playing some of his best tennis and made a third Australian Open semi-final in the last four editions of the tournament.

Last year’s French Open finalist produced a dominant display against Sinner in the quarter-final, and after the match revealed that even his own doctor didn’t think he’d be able to recover in time for the season-opening Grand Slam.

“I’m pretty sure my doctor is watching right now, he has been sending me texts after every single match,” the seven-time tour title winner said in his on-court interview.

“We both didn’t expect me to participate at the Australian Open.”

He added that he was happy to prove his doctor wrong, admitting he was lucky to find someone with experience in treating tennis players for similar elbow injuries.

Tsitsipas continued: “Frank certainly told me he didn’t see me participating in the Australian Open. I proved him wrong.”

Opening up on the comments in his press conference, the fourth seed added: “Well, Dr. Frank spoke from experience that he had with other players that he treated and put that into consideration.

“He was kind of surprised. My healing process was faster than he would have expected, and he was — I don’t know.

“He was probably telling me this to push me a little bit more without me realizing that. I don’t know what his intentions were, but he wasn’t thinking too big. He was humble.”


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