Djokovic on Tsitsipas: ‘He has potential to be No. 1’

andrew hendrie:

Novak Djokovic believes Stefanos Tsitsipas can be the World No. 1 in the coming years after beating the Greek in the Dubai final.

Djokovic toppled Tsitsipas in straight sets to claim his fifth Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title, but was full of praise for the youngster post-match, declaring the current World No. 6 could hit the top spot in the future.

“I love the fact that he is more than just tennis player and he’s always looking to learn from the experience and to understand something new about himself so he can improve, get better,” said Djokovic.

“That for me is a trait of a champion, of someone that for sure has a great potential to be No. 1 of the world and win Grand Slams and be a great ambassador of our sport. He already is, but he has a great future ahead of him, I’m sure.”

The youngest player in the top 10, Tsitsipas owns multiple victories over Djokovic and Roger Federer, along with a win last year over Rafael Nadal on clay.

Tsitsipas, like Djokovic, won the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals title at the age of 21 last year and is targeting a breakthrough at Grand Slam level in 2020.

After making the Australian Open semi-finals last season, Tsitsipas couldn’t defend those points, losing in the third round in January to Milos Raonic.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

However, Djokovic says that loss is no cause for concern and that Tsitsipas has plenty of time to further develop into a multiple-time major champion.

“You go through the process of self-realisation and learning, maturing, then understanding what’s good for you in life, in your career. He’s a mature man already,” said Djokovic.

“He’s young from the perspective of professional sport, but he’s been around. He’s very smart, very wise.”

The Greek had a tough start to 2020, losing two of his three matches at the ATP Cup and falling in the second round of Rotterdam to Aljaz Bedene, in addition to his aforementioned Australian Open loss to Raonic, but Tsitsipas has found some of his best tennis over the last couple of tournaments, winning his fifth career title in Marseille before a second consecutive runner-up finish in Dubai after going down to Federer last season.

Tsitsipas was on an eight-match winning streak heading into the Dubai final, but despite seeing it snapped by Djokovic, he believes he can one day match the Serbian’s dominance, which has seen him record a 18-0 start to 2020 and a 21-match victorious run overall.

“I am not surprised he has done it. I want to do it one day too… I’ve been playing some good tennis,” said Tsitsipas.

“Obviously I’ve never had the record that Djokovic has. But I do think it’s possible. Of course, lots of respect to him for doing it so many times.”