February 11, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
S. TSITSIPAS/T. Kokkinakis
6-7, 6-4, 6-1, 6-7, 6-4
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. That was quite a battle out there. Can you just give us your thoughts on that win, please.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Not much to say. Great match towards the very end, and I fought like a lion. I fought like a real warrior out there, and it was an amazing ending with lots of emotion and great spirits.
Q. Novak has talked about how fast he feels that Rod Laver is playing. I wondered if you experienced that on the other courts, if you've experienced that today at all, especially facing someone who had a big serve? And you served pretty well yourself? Wondered how that played into the match at all.
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I find Rod Laver maybe one of the slowest courts out there, I think, yeah. Other courts feel quicker to me.
But he was serving pretty well. Gave me a hard time. Even though the court was slow, I had difficulties returning and bringing back his serve and lots of missed opportunities, breakpoints that I had. Yeah, he just managed it really well.
I think the speed of the court, it's in most Grand Slams like this, not all courts are the same speed. It is how it is. I don't really have to pay too much attention and detail on this.
Q. You spoke a little bit on court about Thanasi and his potential and kind of I suppose all the things he's overcome to get back to this level. What is his potential? Based on how he played today, what do you think he's capable of?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: He's capable of a lot of things. He played phenomenal tennis. I didn't have the best start in the match. Took me a while to get used to the rhythm, the pace.
I think it was also due to the fact that I played with a player who plays deep and slow such as Gilles Simon who gave a completely different rhythm and match in my first-round opener.
So I'm just happy I fought and found different ways, brought up opportunities. My fighting spirit was there. When I had to play, I played. It's something that he also was dealing with really well. He was able to concentrate and serve big serves on the crucial, important moments, which was very frustrating, I won't lie.
And I think, yeah, he has a huge forehand, very good serve, all the potential is there. I really hope he stays injury-free, because it can be very frustrating. I have dealt with it, and I know it's very difficult mentally to go through things like this.
I just wish him, like, good health and that he can compete an entire year without any pain or anything bothering him.
Q. He said the other day that he's had dinner with your family. You have obviously been hitting partners at various points. How nice is it just to finally see him on the court properly and seeing him looking fit for the first time in a while?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Well, it's not going to be fun for a lot of players playing against him. He's going to give them a really hard time.
I have known him for quite a while. We played an exhibition match. First time that I actually met him was in an exhibition event that took place in Greece. He got invited to come. I think it was around, I don't really remember, 15 or 16 years old, and we played an exhibition in one of the most elite tennis clubs in Athens, which was a really nice, beautiful night, organized by the person that brought him to Greece.
But since then, we haven't really -- we have played once or twice, Monte-Carlo. He had some good wins after that against Roger, I think, in Miami.
But, you know, it's sad because he can do more, but the things he has struggled with have kept him behind and haven't given him the opportunity to proceed and do great things in tennis.
Q. You play Mikael Ymer next. Can you talk about what you learned about his game from practicing together during quarantine?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yeah, he has a very unique, very different game style than most players. I would consider him as a counterpuncher. He likes to play with your speed. Very good baseliner. Has a really solid baseline game.
Yeah, we played a lot together. I think it's good that we tested our tennis many times against one another during the quarantine.
He's someone I know, like, since a baby. We are both playing together. We are the same generation, same age. Yeah, he's a serious opponent. I know he had some good wins in the last couple of rounds. He seems like he's in good shape.
Q. Can you describe what your hope is that this tournament will send in the way of a message to the rest of the world by having fans and all of the tournament being played in terms of hope for everybody else?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: This is the first step. This is the start of something greater in the future. This is a sign that things are going to be okay again and everything will return back to normal.
It's a great move. It's a move full of hope, full of aspiration. It's a reminder that things are better, greater when people are around and we can all enjoy it all together as a union.
Q. Just wondering how good is it to see a Swede make it this far in the slam especially with its rich player history in the past?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Yeah, they had a lot of players. Mikael is a Swedish prodigy. He has beaten good player on the tour.
I think it helps that we played in quarantine, you know. It's kind of like have a clue of how he plays and what he does. I'm pretty sure it's the same for him. This is going to be a difficult test, difficult challenge. He's in really good shape, plays good tennis.
He's a big fighter. I'm gonna have to fight harder than him, and it's great to be seeing him make the third round of a slam.
Q. I think I'm right in saying that's your first hard court five-set win. What does that mean to you, especially given what happened to you against Borna Coric in New York last year?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I don't know. A win is a win. A hard-fought win is even sweeter.
Yeah, I wouldn't say it's not in my mind. You know, it was very painful what happened at the US Open, especially when you're that close and you're playing well and your level is there.
But things happen, you know. Things are not always going to be under your control and in your hands, so there is plenty to learn from that. I'm happy that I got my first five-set win. I hope, yeah, more three-set wins in slams would be nice (smiling).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports