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December 30, 2022

Petros Tsitsipas

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Maria Sakkari

Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Team Greece

Press Conference


6-4, 6-4

Team Greece - 4

Team Bulgaria - 1

THE MODERATOR: First of all, congrats to Team Greece again. You won the first tie against Bulgaria, 4-1. Very solid win, and also good results for both of our top players here.

As the captain, what's your thoughts on the overall performance of your team in the first tie?

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: Starting off the day with Maria is a very big advantage for us, because obviously she has the upper hand against an opponent like Viktoriya. She managed to stay very composed and very aggressive throughout the whole match. It was overall a very clean win, I would say. Not many ups and downs, which was very important.

Yeah, she played very well. I'm sure she can play even better than that, but it was enough to get the win and to close the tie at 3-0.

Then Mich, I think, had an underperformance, for sure. Physically he's not 100%, which is not ideal, but, you know, having the 3-0 advantage, we definitely had to let him play and see how he feels so we know for the upcoming matches how to handle it.

And doubles match was good enough. I mean, you know, it's never easy to play mixed doubles. I can tell you that. I've never played mixed doubles myself. So I'm sure it's not easy with the combination, man-woman, to really know 100% how to handle it in the first match.

But I'm sure it's a very good thing that Maria and Stefanos played today together because that will give them an idea of how they have to play for the next matches and what to improve. Yeah, that's pretty much it.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations on the win, everyone. Maria, for yourself, how did you feel coming out of especially that singles match to start the day?

MARIA SAKKARI: Obviously I was a little nervous. I knew that my match is crucial, because it's different getting that 3-Love lead in the tie, and it was the first match of the season, even though like the previous season has only finished like a month and a half ago.

You know, I know Viktoriya really well. She's not an easy player to play. She makes a lot of balls, so I just had to, you know -- sometimes it doesn't look pretty, but all that matters is that you find way to win and you find a way to start feeling better on the court. Obviously there is a lot of room for improvement, which is good, and I think that day by day I'm going to start feeling better with my shots and everything.

Q. In your on-court interview afterwards you spoke about your new level or different level of fitness. Can you go into a bit more detail what you have done ahead of what is going to be a massive Australian summer for yourself?

MARIA SAKKARI: I just spend a little bit more time in the gym and on the court this preseason. It was very tough, but at the same time, I felt like that was what I needed.

I worked pretty much on everything; a lot of running, a lot of player metrics, a lot of obviously weight lifting, and a lot of body weight exercises. So everything combined I think it's going to bring the best out of me.

Yeah, as I said on the court, if I feel physically fit and strong, then I feel like that's when I play my best tennis.

Q. Petros just mentioned how hard it is to play mixed doubles. You guys come in as the top seed because of your rankings, but also the advantage is you and Stefanos have obviously playing plenty of mixed doubles together. Do you feel like that's a big advantage for your team going forward if it does come down to that mixed doubles tie and needing to win?

MARIA SAKKARI: It's a big advantage playing with Stefanos, I can tell you that (smiling). I mean, we knew from day one, you know, from the first match we played together that we have a very good chemistry on the court.

Obviously, as I said, there are a lot of things that personally I can improve. I think that if I could have helped serve once in the first set and once in the second set when I had to, the score would have been different. But, yeah, it's always tricky to play mixed doubles because you have the guy serving full power to you. You know, you need to try and do things differently.

Q. Petros, you mentioned Mich sort of struggled today. You have a couple days to think about if you play him again. Have you had any initial thoughts about if he will be the second singles match in your tie?

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: Well, our first alternate for the singles is Stefanos, the young kid you saw two days ago. Actually, I mean, Mich is our first option as the second singles player, obviously, but Stefanos can play very well, as well. He has been playing on the futures tour quite a while. He's young, tall, has good shots. He's playing quite a lot, as well.

Obviously he's not a top player, but, you know, I think people underestimate sometimes the futures players. I think, surprisingly, someone can come out and perform very well at this level even if he's playing at the lowest professional caliber.

But still, we have some days to think about it and I'm sure we are going to find a solution, the best solution.

Q. Stefanos, congratulations on the doubles win today and the singles win yesterday. Looking ahead to your match against David Goffin, what are your thoughts heading into that one?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I mean, you should ask the captain, right? Why are you asking me (smiling)?

I have played quite a lot with David. I don't know in what shape he is, but I'm going to find out in our next meeting.

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: You're going to find out tomorrow, I think. He's playing tomorrow.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Right, tomorrow.

I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to get a chance to represent my country again against a different nation, and hopefully we can get some good Greek support out there. We have had quite a few people in the last couple of days, but I'm looking for an even more ecstatic type of atmosphere.

MARIA SAKKARI: "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: A Big Fat Greek Wedding taking place in RAC Arena. Cousins, grandmas, uncles, all come and join us.

Q. How much did you notice --

MARIA SAKKARI: Cats, dogs.

Q. How much did you notice the crowd effect so far?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: The crowd, it's good. But let's put it that way: It has potential (smiling).

Q. Maria, just for you today, when your opponent got injured early in that first set, did you have a tactic after that to try to move her around as much as possible, or how did you handle that?

MARIA SAKKARI: I think moving the opponent is always a tactic. You never want to play right at them unless that's a tactical thing. Obviously she started slapping a little bit more and started going for it because obviously she was hurt, couldn't move really well. I just felt after winning that first set, my level was a little bit better, so I was able to just move her on a better way.

Q. The other day at the presser when we spoke, you mentioned the Hopman Cup from a few years ago, and you seemed a little sour maybe about the point-scoring system and the fact you and Stefanos didn't make the final. Is that still in the back of your mind in this big mixed team event, that you want to come here and win obviously your group, first and foremost, and then that Perth final to make that Sydney final?

MARIA SAKKARI: I mean, that is our goal, of course. It would be the dream if we can win this event, because we don't represent Greece -- we do represent Greece every single week, but that's like, it's Team Greece, so it's kind of different.

I think it's already a huge thing that we are the No. 1 seed coming from a small country, and I want people to appreciate that quite a lot, because what we have achieved, it's huge. Like, we are in front of countries, like the U.S., France, Great Britain, that they have big tournaments in their countries. But it would be the dream for us and for our country to, you know, to be able and of course lift the trophy.

Q. Maybe similar to the theme of the Big Fat Greek Wedding, you've got two days off now and it's a new year. Are there any celebration plans as a team for the New Year?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Didn't you just say we play tomorrow?

MARIA SAKKARI: We don't play tomorrow.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Are you crazy, bro? Captain, are you crazy?

MARIA SAKKARI: You zoned out.

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: I said Goffin is playing tomorrow against Bulgaria.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I was, like, shocked. I was like, We are playing tomorrow already?

MARIA SAKKARI: You have two days off. Don't worry.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: That's what I thought. Then the captain says otherwise.


STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: This tournament is nuts, huh?

Q. Is it time for a party?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Party, no. Party is after the United Cup.

Q. Nothing for New Year? Nothing for the New Year celebration?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Sleep early, go to bed. I don't know. Maria is the concierge. Ask her.

MARIA SAKKARI: I'm not the concierge.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: It's a good job to be the concierge.

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: She's going to do a better job than you as a concierge, that's for sure.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: The most valuable people in a hotel are the concierges.

Q. We quite enjoyed the team celebration at the end. Whose idea was that? Will that be developing as you keep winning matches, will you add bits to it?

CAPTAIN PETROS TSITSIPAS: It's very common for Greeks to do that, and in every sport. It's not only us who do it.


Q. Yeah.

MARIA SAKKARI: They do it in volleyball a lot.

Q. What were you saying when you chant?

MARIA SAKKARI: "Alas." [Phonetic.] "Alas" is Greece.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I prefer that much more than "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi."

Q. You have talked about playing mixed doubles before. Do you now feel you are more in sync with each other compared to Hopman Cup and the Olympics? How do you feel your games complement each other?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Look, Maria is such a fighter when she's on the court. It's such a pleasure to look at her give her best on the field. I'm quite honored to be sharing that with her, these piece of kind of history that we are both able to give back home, because it really hasn't been done before.

It's a very nice feeling to get to do this together. We don't get the opportunity very often. I have told her at times maybe we should play a Grand Slam mixed doubles, if would be fun.

MARIA SAKKARI: Maybe in Australia, play singles, mixed, and doubles.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: True. Maybe not this year, but... Petros ruined my plans. Thank you, brother.

MARIA SAKKARI: It's okay. I can give Petros my spot.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: We complement each other with our games. I have potential for sure with my returns from time to time. Maria is very consistent. On her returns, especially with the men, I have played some, let's say, unofficial practice mixed doubles in the past with some other girls, and they are not able to return the men's serves as good as Maria has been doing.

Today, I mean, for sure judging from the past I have seen her serve way better than she did today but it's okay. We still found a way. That is what matters at the end.

MARIA SAKKARI: Good thing we have your serve.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I happened to serve a little bit better than I usually do, so we balanced it out a little bit.

You know, Maria is a player that can also volley. She can play better volleys than most of the women out there, and of course her backhand is money.

Q. Talking about your serve, in your singles match you served really well, only lost three points on serve in the second set and served out both sets quickly. Mixed doubles, is it a different approach, different formats, what changed?

MARIA SAKKARI: I think I was overthinking about the serve after the singles, and then it got a little bit into my head. It's nothing massive that I have to work on. It's just things I have been working in preseason. I'm going to repeat them the next few days, and I think I'll be fine and ready to go in our next tie.

Q. Yesterday you talked about the souvlaki in Perth compared to the other Australian cities.

MARIA SAKKARI: You had souvlaki in Perth?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: I think so. That was more of a joke, actually. That was not a real thing. You have to create stories sometimes.

Q. What Greek foods do you think Perth does well?

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: What Perth does well? In terms of what?

Q. Greek food.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: Well, I wasn't paid by them to promote them, but let's just give a shout-out to The Souvla Boys. If you ever are in need or in search of, if you are throwing a party at home here in Perth or around anywhere in Western Australia, I suggest you give them a call and they will make a really good table for you with some souvla and some really good Greek stuff. Yeah. Shout-out to you guys.

Q. What kind of advice have you been giving to players like the Sakellaridis, Valentini, and Mich? What kind of advice have they been asking for?

MARIA SAKKARI: Have they asked me? I don't know. They haven't asked me anything.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS: So rude. I would be asking you also. (Laughter.)

MARIA SAKKARI: I think that just that, you know, having that team spirit it helps a lot, because you don't want to win for yourself. You want to win and you fight more for the others. So I think your motivation is higher. That's how I think the rest of the team thinks.

Obviously we can give our opinion about their next opponents, because, for example, I have played Van Uytvanck a few times, so if Despina, she ask me a couple of things, I might know what to say.


MARIA SAKKARI: Yeah, I might. I'm not sure. I haven't played her in a while.

Then I think that it's great that we can just spend time with each other and, as I said, learn things from each other.

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