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May 12, 2019

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Madrid, Spain


6-4, 2-6, 6-3

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. I don't have to remind you how devastated you were when you lost to Rafa. What are you most happy about, how you like turned it around and didn't let that loss and the losses before affect you?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: You cannot imagine the relief. It's unbelievable. I don't want to say this, but it almost felt like I lost hope at some point. Was three in a row. I felt in Toronto when I played him I was very close and this match kind of gave me a bit of confidence I can do bet in the future, but then it was too much.

Really happy that I overcame this and dealt with it mentally. Yeah. Beating him on clay makes it even more special, as you may, I think, I guess. That's it.

Q. On that point, you have had a win over Novak on hard, you have beaten Roger in Australia, but beating Rafa on clay is something extra special. Does this rank as the best win of your career so far, would you say?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: For sure. Definitely. Nothing to add. Definitely.

Q. I would like to know how did you approach this match compared with the one from Australia? What did you do differently?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I'll tell you now. I will probably say that the fact that it was hard court, a bit faster. It felt like he was more confident with his shots at the Australian Open than now. Now I felt I had more time to defend and attack, which might sound strange, but it felt like much better playing him on clay than on hard, to be honest with you.

Let's get back to the question. Why did I change? I served and volleyed pretty often, not that much, but I did come to the net a few times. I was returning much better today than any other day that I have played him.

So, return games and keeping him in the rally on his service games, being patient, trying to find the height and the depth and opening the court. Yeah, that was crucial.

And also -- that's pretty much it, serving pretty well much better than the Australian Open. Consistent, not aces, but I would say -- I didn't see the stats -- but a high percentage of first serve. Yeah, that's it. I also felt very confident with my shots, with my groundstrokes.

Q. Tomorrow in Novak Djokovic, what are your expectations for the final of tomorrow?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I have never faced him on clay so I don't know what to expect. I'm going to try to analyze some things to see the way he tries to, you know, play on clay.

I have seen plenty of his matches, but I'm going to try to adapt to the way he is playing on clay as fast as I can because I'm pretty sure he is not easy on clay, as on hard. He actually is one of the guys that beat Rafa on clay. I'm going to have to be mentally focussed and also psychologically ready for a fight. That will be very important in tomorrow's match.

Q. What mental work did you do? You talked about your tactics and what you did on the court. What do you do mentally, to get yourself in that frame of mind in front of that big crowd on his best surface and manage it as well as you did?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: It was difficult knowing the whole crowd was supporting him. I felt the same way when I faced Verdasco a few days ago.

To be honest, it is different in other places and other cities I have played. People are supporting more their compatriots so that was very difficult knowing that everybody likes him and everybody's with him.

That makes it even more special that I managed to stay focussed and not think too much of the crowd, just play my game (smiling).

And I actually said to myself that would be even better if you overcome this difficult test today. That will make it more special.

Q. After you win, you said this was one of the most important matches of your life. How easy will it be to recover mentally in time for the final which is 18 hours away?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: How easy is it going to be mentality to?

Q. After you win, you said this was one of the most important matches of your life. How easy will it be to recover mentally in time for the final which is 18 hours away?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yes, it was one of the best matches I played all my life. Players like him who play with your mental game as well, they rely a lot on your mental ability and the way you are going to basically test you every single time. You always feel like you have to play the best shot, make the best approach, so players like Rafa are very difficult to face and I would record it as my best victory and the toughest match I had up to this day.

Q. One year ago, you played in the qualifying in Rome at this time and now you have probably beat the best player of all time on clay. Could you just talk us through the path you went through over this last 52 weeks?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I remember this very well last year, Rome, which is a week from now. That was my last qualifying match that I played officially -- I really hope it is (smiling). I remember someone telling me that is going to be your last qualifying. I don't want to say too much (smiling) so I remember that.

Madrid last year as well. I didn't have the best results, best outcome, but this year I became more experienced.

What has changed? I'm more experienced, more fit and experience actually plays a huge role in the way you are going to play. And more courageous, is that right? Is that a word? Courageous. A more courageous Stefanos with more guts and mentally much tougher than I was the year before.

Q. I was wondering what sort of time you got to bed last night because you played such a late doubles match?

Q. That is pretty late. You have had that week in Estoril before you won all those matches and you have been playing doubles on top of it. If you were to go deep in Rome, it could be a really long, fatiguing few weeks for you. Do you worry at all about burnout before the French Open or anything? Or do you see it as every single match you can play is good for you?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I made a promise after I did well in Miami. I made a promise that I'm going to play all the Masters 1000 series events in doubles. That is the only -- these are the only tournaments that I'll play doubles at, no Grand Slams, no 500s or 250s. So I have to commit, but also, as you said, like fatigue is also important and it's going to play a huge role before the French Open.

I'm going to try to adapt to that. As I mentioned previously, I feel like much fitter than last year. I don't think last year I could handle all of this. So I have seen a massive improvement in my fitness, but I really hope it is not -- I will have a week before the French where I can relax and have a few days off and start again and reboot.

I love playing, you know (smiling). It is nice to have some doubles on clay. People find it difficult, but I think it's helped me a lot also in my singles, my volleys have improved actually by playing doubles. I feel much more confident coming to the net. So they are the small things that doubles has provided to me.

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