January 2, 2023
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
S. TSITSIPAS/D. Goffin
Team Greece - 1
Team Belgium - 1
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the press conference of Team Greece. Captain Petros, I know this is probably not the best result you wanted for today, but are you still satisfied with the performance of your players today?
CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: I think as a team we performed overall better than Belgium, and that's a good sign. We didn't start off with a win, but it doesn't matter. Despina fought very hard on the court. She kept Alison as long as possible. It didn't go her way, but she fought until the end.
That's the most important thing, you know, because in the end of the day, if you give your maximum effort and the result doesn't come, it's gonna come next time. I'm sure next time she will know what little adjustments she has to make to her game to get the win.
Stefanos played overall great. David didn't have many chances to get into the match. So it's a very clean win, a very clean start, and tomorrow waits for better.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Stefanos, how would you describe how you're starting this season compared to previous season starts? Do you feel like you're in tip-top form already?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Well, it is important what I feel, but I don't want to say too much about myself. There is so much tennis to be played this year. Physically I feel very good. I didn't have, let's say, the longest preseason in comparison to some other players, but my mind is sort of refreshed.
I did try some new things. You know, I was keen to add something extra to my game because I have some new competitors now that I need to be competing against that are really strong, really fit, they run all over the court, they serve really well. And that comes with some -- there has been a lot of thought put into this process of how am I going to keep up with this. Every single day it is important to keep improving, because there are guys coming from behind that want the same trophies as much as you.
I feel very good, close to what I felt in 2019 where I had a breakout season, let's say. I think physically I have never been better in terms of lasting on the court, being able to last long, tough, and hot matches, for example, that I will have to play this summer here in Australia.
I have been putting a lot of physical work inside of my game to complement it of course.
Q. It showed out there the last two singles matches you've had, and even the doubles. You almost looked like you were playing with real clarity today. You got broken after you broke back in the first set, and you just looked like you were just in total control, weren't panicking, you knew what was coming. Is that a nice place to be in?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: It is a very nice place to be in. I wish I can be in that place more often (smiling).
When you're able to play like this, of course, you know, you don't know what the response is going to be from the other side of the court. You always have to have sort of that thing in your mind when you play.
You cannot allow yourself to feel like God when you are on the court unless you've reached that sort of, let's say -- how do we say it again? -- the flow, the flow state. Which has happened to me a few times last season, and I hope it will happen this season as well where you feel like everything just goes your way, there is no more thinking involved on the court. Your decisions are sort of part of your subconscious and you don't even have to force anything anymore.
So it's a very nice place to be when you are able to be so much focused on a little fuzzy yellow thing that is coming from the other side of the court, and that builds up a momentum, builds up this, let's call it Zen mode that I'm seeking for when I play tennis.
I sort of had like an 80% today. I feel like there is still the 20% left out there.
Q. Do you feel like you can find that? I know this is the main focus and goal at the moment at United Cup, but realistically you've made two semifinals in last two years at the Australian Open. Do you feel you can find that 20% before you hit that Grand Slam?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: If I think that? Well, it has to come on its own, you know. I wish I could just click like this and could make it come to me. But it all comes with working on that focus, because we are, in a way, superhuman when we are out on the court. Today I saw Despina, she did some beautiful things on the court, being very creative, and following some really good tactics. That is inspiring when you see that.
You can pretty much learn from everyone. It's almost like a drug when you play out there with that thing inside of you. It makes tennis a very exciting and a very addictive game if you are able to reach that level.
Q. You guys said the other day you wanted that Big Fat Greek Wedding. There was big crowd out there that was so behind your team. How did that feel? It looked amazing.
DESPINA PAPAMICHAIL: Yeah, I mean, it felt amazing. The support always helps us. We love the support, and especially when it comes from Greeks. Talking about myself, I loved it. I enjoyed it a lot. Hopefully they will come even if there are hopefully next matches.
Q. Stefanos, you hadn't played Goffin since 2019. Do you think in that first set it took time to remember how he played, or was everything quite fresh? Did it take time to adjust to his game again?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Not having played someone in a long time always creates a little bit of doubt. Maybe he has changed something that I wasn't able to observe in recent time. But I did have memories from playing him three years ago. They are installed inside my head in my software (smiling).
You know, it's quite similar, yes. I would say it was quite similar. But something that I had to also pay attention to is the conditions are slightly different. I remember playing him in some indoors in Europe, and that makes for a level of different tennis that is being played.
I knew deep inside there has been an evolution for me in those last three years. I consider myself a better player than what I was three years ago. So it helps with the confidence when you're thinking this way, when you always keep pushing yourself and put belief in your game.
Of course this memory has sort of helped me to push through and to not feel, let's say, panicked, as you said it, during that game. It was important.
Q. In today's match and against Grigor, your serve really came through for you, I guess, at the end. As someone who has always had a great serve, do you feel like you're now serving better than ever?
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I don't know if the statistics show otherwise, but I have been able to produce more aces maybe the last two matches than I have been in the past. We'll check it out. I don't know.
But it has been very good so far. I was able to close a few with aces. Not so often before.
And, yeah, there is still potential in hitting more the second serve, something I tried in the last game. I encourage myself to keep doing it. I'm a tall guy, I have power in my shoulders. I can play the serve very well. I just wish I could have, let's say, I could have found that service motion and rhythm in the beginning of the match, because it felt like I was a little bit off when we started.
But I slowly started getting it to work for me in my favor more and more. I think he felt it as well, which also made him realize he might need to do something more, react in a different way to cause some damage. That is it.
Q. Petros, we are getting to the stage in the competition where the scenarios can get quite complicated. How aware are you of the exact what can happen tomorrow or what can happen generally with the other teams?
CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: Well, our goal is to win the tie obviously. We are not really thinking about the scenarios so much. We have it in the back of our mind, but I mean, if we manage to win the tie, that would be the best thing.
As far as I know, for the city finals, even if let's say things don't go our way, we still have a chance to qualify as a runner-up team, and that starts with ties won. So if we have two ties won, that increases the chance of us qualifying for the semifinals.
Clearly our goal is to win against Belgium, and from there we will just, you know, see how it goes. Yeah, if the chances are high to pass, we just go with it.
Q. I'd like to ask about the team members who aren't here, Valentini, Sapfo, Stefanos, we haven't seen them play yet but they are obviously integral parts of the team, so can you talk about their role on the team and whether they are hitting partners or motivating you or what are they doing behind the scenes?
CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: Everyone is doing a great job in the team. We all have a very good chemistry between us. Some of us don't know each other very well, but that was not the problem. We got to get closer pretty fast, which is very important for the chemistry of the team.
Yeah, we are all playing our part. We are trying. The guys that were not playing were trying to support as much as possible from the bench. It's very important to do that. You know, it's a team event, and we also have the coaches giving 100% every day. We are all communicating with each other.
Yeah, I think as of now everybody is doing a great job, and we should just keep doing the same thing.
Q. Despina, was this the biggest crowd you have ever played in front of? How did that feel? You had some amazing winners. How did that feel when they were cheering you on?
DESPINA PAPAMICHAIL: Yeah, definitely the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of, but I really do like these big stages. I love the crowds.
Yeah, I think I always give, say to myself, that I want to be there, and I think I'm proving it, yeah, because even today the match was really close. I started with the lead, I was 5-3 up in the first set with a set point. So yeah, I think these things have to motivate me and give me confidence.
Yeah, I'm not gonna give up. I'm gonna work even harder in order to be able to come back and get the win in those kind of matches.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports