Greek tennis superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas said former Cypriot player Marcos Baghdatis was one of his role models when he was growing up.
Speaking after beating Karen Khachanov in the semi-final of the Australian Open on Thursday, Tsitsipas said watching Baghdatis playing in Grand Slam tournaments when he was young inspired him to become a tennis player.
“It was great seeing him battle against the great players of his time,” he said. “Marcos might not have won a Grand Slam during his career, but he was a great player and I consider him one of my role models.”
Tsitsipas also added that he feels blessed for the support he is receiving around the world and that he fulfilled his wish of putting Greece on the world map of tennis.
“I know it doesn’t mean too much to the Australians, who are churning out players all the time, but coming from a small country like Greece, I feel immense gratitude for the support,” he said.
“I never expected to be treated so well here. Let’s see what happens in the final.”
However, he did not give a clear answer about his preference for the final regarding his opponent.
“On one side there is Novak Djokovic, who has won the Australian Open nine times. On the other side there is Tommy Paul, a player of my generation, who I have faced many times at junior level. It’s nice to see him reach this level.
“That said, I need to get ready for the big day, regardless of who my opponent will be,” he said.
Should he win the final on Sunday in Melbourne, Tsitsipas will top the ATP rankings for the first time in his career.
“I like the idea! It was always a dream of mine to become world number one and I’m happy to have the opportunity to do so now. All I have to do is win,” Tsitsipas concluded.