Despite being thousands of kilometres away from his home in Athens, Stefanos Tsitsipas has more support behind him than he could have imagined as he prepares to go head-to-head with Spaniard Rafael Nadal on Thursday in the Australian Open semifinals.
Along with members of the Greek Australian community who have been turning out each round to cheer him on, the 20-year-old also has the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia on his side.
The Archdiocese’s central offices in Sydney released an official statement on Wednesday, warmly addressed “To our beloved child Stefanos”.
It reads as follows:
“His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, together with his Assistant Bishops, Clergy and the whole of the Greek community, admires and is very proud of all your achievements thus far in your career.
“We wish you wholeheartedly all the very best for tomorrow’s match and hope you are victorious so that you may bring pride and glory once again to our homeland Greece, and to all of us.
“May God strengthen you; bless your life and all your endeavours.”
Tsitsipas comes off the back of an impressive win against Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Tuesday 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-2), and before that beat his childhood hero, tennis star great Roger Federer 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.
Next he will come to face Nadal on Rod Laver Arena. Ranked number 2, the Spaniard from Mallorca has yet to lose a single set in the Grand Slam.
The 32-year-old defeated Francis Tiafoe on Wednesday night (6-3, 6-4, 6-2) to reach the semifinals.
But the young Greek star wasn’t showing any signs of intimidation in Tuesday’s press conference. On the contrary, he confidently revealed he knows the secret against Nadal’s play-style.
“I got really stubborn last time I lost (against him). That’s when I told myself that the next time I get the opportunity to play him, I need to do better. I said then that I can beat him, because I know how he plays. I didn’t want that to come out wrong, but I really feel like I can do it. I have really studied the strategies he uses and it’ll be a great joy to just go out there, play some good tennis and leave with the win. I really want this,” he said.