French Open Roland Garros finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, became the first casualty of Wimbledon 2021 after he was easily defeated by American Francis Tiafoe, who had the advantage of the grass court.
Tiafoe’s 6-4 6-4 6-3 victory took over two hours and was a watershed moment for the 23-year-old American whose odds had been 0-11 against opponents.
It was a shock defeat for third seed Tsitsipas who said it was his shortage of grass-court matches and lack of motivation were factors behind his loss even though he had said, before the game, he had been feeling more confident on the grass court. Despite this, he failed to convert any of his six break points.
“For sure lack of matches was crucial today. The transition from clay to grass, in my opinion, is probably the most difficult one, if not the biggest challenge in our sport. I just wasn’t able to adapt,” Tsitsipas said. “I obviously didn’t want it to be like this, to get to the point where I’m completely out of control.”
The crowds saw only occasional flashes of brilliance by the Greek champ.
“There wasn’t that same fighting spirit that I usually put out on the court. I would like to see a different me next time. There have been times that I was much more motivated than this. But that’s no reason for me not to play well.”
Tsitsipas regrets not having played at an ATP Tour event on grass since his five-set defeat to Novak Djokovic in the final at Roland Garros.
“I was thinking maybe I should have played either Mallorca or Eastbourne. These tournaments would have helped get me in a better shaper,” Tsitsipas said.
“I would like to pinpoint and say that I have all the qualities and the game to play on grass.
“I kind of started feeling my game a bit better towards the end of the third set. I just wish the match would have started in the third set. I wasn’t able to maintain the intensity.”
Tiafoe was ecstatic following his win.
“Definitely one of my best [matches]. From start to finish it was pretty clean,” Tiafoe said.
“This is what you train for, this is what it’s all about. I live for these kind of moments. If you’d seen me on the side courts you might have seen a different performance today but I love this … got to make something good happen.”
He set the tone after he broke serve in the opening game.