Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas: Greek tennis placed two representatives in the semi-finals of Roland Garros. A first for this country where tennis is not king. But on the occasion of the Parisian tournament, the matches are more and more followed in Greece.
Greek tennis is effective. They are only two in the 200 best players in the world in the ATP and WTA rankings: Maria Sakkari, Stefanos Tsitsipas, both are in the semi-finals of Roland-Garros. “It’s a fantastic time for Greek tennis” exclaimed Sakkari at a press conference after her quarter-final victory over defending champion Iga Swiatek.
“We have been very close from a young age”
This is the first time that the Greeks have two representatives in the semi-finals. A country that has often seen players of Greek origin shine on the circuit. Pete Sampras, 14 Grand Slam titles, or Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, not to mention the Cypriot neighbor Marcos Baghdatis very appreciated and followed in Greece. This time it is the Greek flag that shines.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, it’s not a surprise, as the world number 5 has been playing well since the start of the season. A semi-final at the Australian Open, a title in Monte-Carlo, a final in Barcelona. For Maria Sakkari, this is a first, she who had never done better than a round of 16 in a Grand Slam and who had ended up getting impatient.
“Everyone was telling me it was coming, and they were right after all. I was impatient, I was telling them: when? When? Actually, it happened this week, so I’m glad it did.”
They were both born in Athens, Sakkari in 1995, Tsitsipas in 1998. Another common point, families rooted in tennis and mothers who are former players. Angelikí Kanellopoúlou, the mother of Maria Sakkari was 43rd player in the world and the mother of Tsitsipas, Julia Apostoli notably won Monte-Carlo junior in 1981. “With Stefanos, we are very close, we have known each other from a young age, explains Sakkari. . I see him every day here. We have dinner with the teams next to each other and I am very happy for him and his family. ”
“The children wanted to become Federer, now they want to become Stefanos”
Some websites even spoke of an intimate relationship between the two. “They are very good friends, people spoke of a couple, but no they are not in a relationship, they just get along very well, tells us Vicky Georgatou Greek journalist for sdna.gr. Stefanos told me the other day that he was watching Maria’s matches, and Maria told me she was doing the same with Stefanos. ”
In Greece the performances of Sakkari and Tsitsipas are very popular for this edition. “Roland-Garros is the only Grand Slam tournament broadcast on a public channel in Greece,” explains the Greek journalist, “so everyone is watching, everyone is following the results, it’s great news there.”
Even if in the country, tennis is far from being the number 1 sport. “Football is by far the most important, then there is basketball where the results have been very good and then there is tennis, thanks to Stefanos and now thanks to Maria I think tennis is in third position. Before in Greece, the children, when they played tennis, they wanted to become Federer, now they want to become Stefanos! ”
Sakkari and Tsitsipas associated with the Tokyo Olympics
And when the question is raised in a press conference, Maria Sakkari responds with a smile: “For now, it exists! It is now, arguably, the biggest sport today. The football season is over, basketball is over, tennis is in the spotlight! “
This Thursday, Maria Sakkari will play her first Grand Slam semi-final against Barbora Kreijcikova, then Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Alexander Zverev on Friday. “It’s going to be big, it’s already an event by the way, everyone will watch and if one or both of them win the tournament, there will be a lot of people to welcome them to their return “, concludes Vicky Georgatou.
A summer of 2021 when Sakkari and Tsitsipas will not leave each other. They will indeed play mixed doubles together at the Olympic Games in Tokyo to make Greek tennis shine again.