Tsitsipas has been in sparkling form since rallying from two sets down to win his opening-round match against Jaume Munar. On Wednesday, Tsitsipas defeated the dangerous Andrey Rublev in straight sets — 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 — just 10 days after Rublev had defeated him on clay in the final of the Hamburg Open.
Tsitsipas, 22, is one of the leaders of tennis’s next generation, marketed by the men’s tour as the “NextGen” in an attempt to build some new star power to prepare for the time when the sport’s Big Three of Federer, 39, Djokovic, 33, and Nadal, 34, is no longer blocking everybody else’s sun.
Tsitsipas, a thoughtful Greek who makes you remember that philosophy is a Greek word, was asked on Wednesday if this French Open could be a springboard for the younger set.
“First of all, I would like to tell you that I’m not a NextGen player anymore,” Tsitsipas said. “I’m a proper adult. Second of all, for sure it’s going to come at some point. I mean, let’s face it. Yeah, the Big Three have been there for a long time. I don’t feel like it’s going to be the same in five, six years’ time.”
It was already different at the United States Open in New York just last month when Dominic Thiem, a 27-year-old from Austria, became the first men’s player since 2016 to win a Grand Slam singles title who was not one of the Big Three. (Federer didn’t play in the event after having a second operation this year on his right knee in June.)
But that breakthrough also had much to do with what happened to Djokovic when he faced Carreño Busta at the U.S. Open. Trailing 5-6 in the opening set of the fourth round, Djokovic lost his serve, removed a ball from his pocket and whacked it in frustration toward the back of the court, inadvertently hitting a line umpire in the throat.
He was disqualified and later apologized on social media, saying he would use the episode as an opportunity to look inward.