US Open star declares ‘I want to be Roger Federer’s successor’ in pressure move

Chinese tennis star Wu Yibing on his journey to ATP Tour

Stefanos Tsitsipas has his sights set on winning the US Open but it appears that he has already set himself an even bigger target. The world No 7 cruised into the second round at Flushing Meadows after completing an emphatic 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory against Milos Raonic on Monday.

The 25-year-old Greek is one of the few players on the tour who chooses to utilise a one-handed backhand, just like all-time great Roger Federer. And it is actually because of the 22-time Grand Slam champion that Tsitsipas adopted the technique when he was just eight years old.

The seventh seed explained that the single-handed backhand was now a signature move of his and because of it, he now wanted to be the natural successor to Federer, who won five successive US Opens.

Tsitsipas said: “I switched and I committed to a single-handed backhand at the age of eight. I remember the phase that I was in between deciding which one am I going to follow. I remember showing up at practice on Monday, playing the entire practice with a double-handed backhand.

“Then next day on Tuesday, I just decided, You know what, I want to play single-handed backhand. That kept going for weeks and weeks.

“I remember my second coach at the time, I remember that moment very well, he kind of made fun of me. He said, Stef, are you ever going to decide what you follow? Kind of joked that day.

“I took it seriously, so I said, Single-handed backhand it is. I’m just committing to that. I’m going all the way, not looking back. It stuck since then. It’s my signature shot today. It kind of defines me.”

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Tsitsipas is not the only top 10 player to attempt the one-handed backhand, however. Norwegian Holger Rune revealed in a recent interview that he also tried to copy Federer’s trademark technique before his own coach put a stop to it.

Rune told Forbes: “I even tried the one-handed backhand, but luckily my coach told me to stick to your own tennis. If I was going to idolize them [Federer and Rafael Nadal], I was trying to idolize them all the way. So I wore the same clothes; I played with the same racket.”

Tsitsipas’ progress at the US Open is already an improvement on last year’s tournament when he was knocked out in the first round by the world No 94 Daniel Elahi Galan from Colombia. But the rising Greek star, who reached the Australian Open final in January, will be hoping for a deep run this time round.

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