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Quotes From Queen’s Club Tennis • Tsitsipas Says Felix Is “The Most Difficult Opponent I’ve Ever Faced”

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas reacts during his round 16 match against Jeremy Chardy of France at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen’s Club in London, Britain, 20 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER



By Ricky Dimon


Stefanos Tsitsipas heaped high praise–alarmingly high, in fact–on the man who beat him at Queen’s Club on Friday afternoon.


Felix Auger-Aliassime upset the top-seeded Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-2 in the Fever-Tree Championships quarterfinals, a result that isn’t overly shocking given the former’s incredible current form. But what Tsitsipas said following his loss was even more noteworthy. And somewhat understandable, too, given that the 20-year-old Greek is now 0-5 lifetime against the 18-year-old Canadian in singles (0-2 on the main tour and 0-3 in juniors).


“He’s the most difficult opponent I’ve ever faced,” said Tsitsipas, who–mind you–has already defeated Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.


“I think it’s gonna take a couple of tries to beat him. He’s really quick and fast, which is rare to find all of that combinations together, combined. Big forehand, big backhand. He can create a lot of opportunities from his backhand, but also at the same time he can be very aggressive from the forehand side. There’s not much to come up with when you play against him. He’s pretty much solid from everywhere.”


Does that make Tsitsipas worried?


“It does worry me (that I’ll be competing against him for big titles), because–I mean, it’s upsetting obviously that he’s better than me. I have to accept that he’s better than me…. He’s beaten me every single time we have faced each other: juniors and pro, he’s beaten me Indian Wells, he’s beating me here, he’s beaten me a couple of times in juniors. I only beat him in doubles. I don’t even count that one, because doubles is doubles….


“I might never beat him, but if I think that way, just need to wait, years maybe, for that chance to come. If not, then not. If yes, then fantastic. I’ll donate, I don’t know, 10,000 for that win to a charity.”


All joking aside, the world No. 6 thinks Auger-Aliassime can capture the title this week then soar much, much greater heights.


“I wouldn’t be surprised (if he wins Queen’s Club). I think he can win Grand Slams, to be honest with you. He has the whole package to play big, to beat–I’m sure if he ever gets the difficult chance to play Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer, he’s going to beat them, for sure. I will not be surprised if he gets wins over those guys.

Canada's Felix Auger Aliassime in action against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas during their quarter final match at the Fever Tree Championship at Queen's Club in London, Britain, 21 June 2019. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

“We will definitely see him in the top five. Maybe not this year but next year or the year after. I would expect something like this.”


For now, however, Auger-Aliassime is 21st in the rankings–15 places behind Tsitsipas. So who’s really better?


“It’s funny that he said that,” Auger-Aliassime remarked. “Maybe the way we match up is better for me. Yeah, I guess when we play I have the advantage on him, but at the same time I think it would be wrong for me to say that I’m a better player than him.


“If you just look at the results he’s had, I mean, he has three titles already on different surfaces. He’s beaten all the top players; Rafa, Novak, Roger. So I think objectively he’s a better player. He’s better ranked and he’s a better player than me. But maybe the matchup, one against each other, I have a bit of an advantage. I don’t know.”


But we do know. The head-to-head numbers say that Auger-Aliassime does have an advantage; the rankings say that Tsitsipas has a different kind of advantage.


Who will have the overall advantage in the long run? It’s too early to tell. It’s too early to be bestowing “most difficult opponent I’ve ever faced” praise on either one.


But it’s not too early to get very, very excited.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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