Is it Doubles Trouble for Tsitsipas as Kyrgios vows to "stay away?"
Greek tennis sensation, Stefanos Tsitsipas has once again been causing quite a stir amongst his fellow players - just days after teaming up with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios to take on the Doubles event at the Citi Open in Washington.
An unlikely pairing
Eyebrows were collectively raised when Citi’s new managing owner, Mark Ein announced the entertaining but also highly controversial pairing between the two fiery tennis personalities. For the first time ever in their respective careers, the 20-year old World No. 6 and the 24-year old World No. 52 would be playing together in the Men’s Doubles event, despite never even having faced each other in a singles match before.
Kyrgios may have spent seven seasons on the ATP Tour, but he’s already developed a reputation for being outspoken and hotheaded - his on-court displays have been known to rival those of John McEnroe. In comparison, Tsitsipas may not have the Aussie’s experience, but his equally unique personality more than makes up for any on-court experience he’s missing as a Doubles player.
Perhaps what raised the most eyebrows was the fact that despite never being rivals on-court, the two did face-off during the 2018 U.S Open via a particularly heated social media spat - which eventually culminated in several tweets being deleted. Tsitsipas has embraced social media and is a known vlogger on the YouTube platform, as well as maintaining a presence on Instagram and his own Twitter account. It all kicked off between the two when the Greek player posted a video of himself walking through New York on the latter. This prompted Kyrgios to bizarrely reply with some obscenities, before saying that “(Tsitsipas) is going to be very good. He isn’t very good now, but he’s going to be very good.'' Naturally, this got a rise out of the youngest player currently in the ATP top ten, upon which he outed Kyrgios as a secret Fortnite player.
Kyrgios vows to stay away
Come the 29th July in Washington and it was all business between the two, as they joined their considerable forces to take on the recent Wimbledon champs, Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. The Grand Slam winners took the first two sets, with Tsitsipas and Kyrgios taking the next two. However, their lack of experience playing as a pair began to show and Cabal and Farah eventually took the win, 6-3, 3-6, 10-5.
In the press conference following the match, Kyrgios addressed the media and vowed to “stay as far away as possible” from the up and coming tennis star, unless their encounter takes place on a doubles court. His reasoning? Because he’s a “bad influence”. According to Kyrgios, Tsitsipas has “only just begun” in his professional career, and “if he keeps his head down, he can do some special things”.
At the time of writing, however, it was announced that the pair would be on court together again sooner than either had probably hoped. Both players successfully made it through the Quarter Finals stage and have just been picked to compete against each other in a Semi Finals match. How this match will play out is anyone’s guess!
Zverev’s not happy
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean in Germany, the current World No. 5 player, Alexander “Sascha” Zverev has had something to say about the unlikely duo (albeit not very much!). Fresh from an eventful Hamburg Open - which brought widely-predicted victories against Federico Delbonis and Filip Krajinović for the German, as well as that disappointing semi-finals loss - Zverev belligerently stated that he was "not very pleased" at the news of the pairing. When the assembled reporters tried to press him on the matter, however, he didn’t want to discuss it any further than simply expressing his unhappiness.
The rivalry between Zverev and Tsitsipas is intense, with each player determined to make their mark on the tennis world. During the 2018 ATP Finals, Zvarev made a number of digs at his rival for his treatment of the ball kids on court. More recently, he memorably snubbed Tsitsipas’ shocking victory over the G.O.A.T, Roger Federer, during the 2019 Australian Open earlier this year. Tsitsipas successfully booked his place in the quarterfinals after knocking the 6-time champion out of the running, whilst Zverev (then ranked World No. 4) crashed and burned against Milos Raonic during the last-16. When asked about the results of this new generation of tennis starlets, Zverev had nothing to say about the Greek’s achievement, preferring to state that the Open “is one of many tournaments. You can't really compete every single week saying you made semis there or quarters there, beat that“.