Tokyo Olympics: Tsitsipas taking inspiration from the gold medallist grandfather he has never met

By Sports Desk July 25, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas is taking inspiration from the grandfather he has never met after battling through to round two of the men's singles at Tokyo 2020.

Alexander Zverev had an altogether more comfortable progression at Ariake Tennis Park, while home favourite Kei Nishikori earned an impressive upset win.

Felix Auger-Aliassime was unable to make the most of two-time defending champion Andy Murray's withdrawal, but it was a good day for Hubert Hurkacz. 

Here's the pick of the action from day two of the men's singles.

 

TSITSIPAS OUT TO EMULATE GRANDFATHER

Greek ace Tsitsipas, a French Open finalist this year, had to dig deep for a three-set win over Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Should he manage to win gold in the Japanese capital he would be matching the feat of his grandfather, who won the football competition representing the Soviet Union in 1956.

"I've never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it," he said. "He kind of inspires me in a way. I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I'm proud of him. 

"It's something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I'm happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics."

ZVEREV LOVING OLYMPICS EXPERIENCE

Fourth seed Zverev coasted past Lu Yen-hsun 6-1 6-3 and spoke of how much he is enjoying being around other German athletes.

"Normally you don't have those guys around that much, you have your friends, of course you have people that are around you, but you don't sleep in the same room as them," he said.

"Yes it is very different but in a way very enjoyable. The Olympics are once every four years, and it’s five years now, so I think everybody is enjoying it and everyone is having the best time that they can."

Nishikori is playing at a fourth Olympics and upset fifth seed Andrey Rublev 6-3 6-4. For the 31-year-old the motivation is simple.

"It's [playing in Japan] something I always dreamed of when I was little," he said. 

"Especially now, with the Covid situation, if I can win as many as I can, I think it will bring better news, that's something I'm trying to do this week."

AUGER-ALIASSIME FAILS TO MAKE MOST OF MURRAY ABSENCE

Auger-Aliassime was scheduled to face Murray before the Team GB star pulled out with a quad issue and will instead focus on doubles.

The Canadian was felled by Murray's replacement Max Purcell, though, the Australian winning 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

Fellow seed Gael Monfils also crashed out but Hurkacz was a 6-2 6-4 victor over Luke Saville, while Diego Schwartzman also made it through.

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    Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov steered Canada to Davis Cup glory in Sunday's final against Australia in Malaga, earning the country their first title in the competition.

    Canada were runners-up three years ago in Madrid, when a 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime and 20-year-old Shapovalov lost their respective singles clashes with Roberto Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal.

    Three years older and three years wiser, this time the Canadians dominated the trophy match at the expense of 28-time champions Australia.

    Shapovalov got Canada off to a flying start by crushing Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2 6-4, setting up the chance for Auger-Aliassime to clinch victory without the need for the contest to go down to a doubles decider.

    World number six Auger-Aliassime made no mistake as he fended off Alex de Minaur 6-3 6-4, adding Davis Cup glory to the four singles titles he has gathered this year.

    Auger-Aliassime saved three break points in the sixth game of the second set, from 0-40, when a trailing De Minaur was looking to hit back. He then sealed Canada's victory minutes later with a forehand into the corner that his opponent could only return out of court, before being mobbed by team-mates.

    Each of Auger-Aliassime's 2022 titles came at indoor hard court events, and he has thrived again in those conditions this week, winning all three of his singles rubbers and a doubles tussle on Saturday against Italy alongside the experienced Vasek Pospisil.

    The Canadian pair got the job done just minutes before kick-off time in their country's World Cup game against Croatia.

    "The emotions are hard to describe," said Auger-Aliassime. "All of us here, we've dreamt of this moment.

    "These guys around me, except Vasek, he's a little bit older than me, we grew up together from the ages of seven, eight years old in Canada dreaming about being on this stage, winning these types of matches, winning a Davis Cup.

    "It's really a dream come true, for me personally and I think for all the team. It was a great moment for myself and the country."

  • Auger-Aliassime believes Canada's time has come as Davis Cup final awaits Auger-Aliassime believes Canada's time has come as Davis Cup final awaits

    Felix Auger-Aliassime is eager to cap a "special year" by leading Canada to Davis Cup glory on Sunday after playing a pivotal role in the semi-final win over Italy.

    Standing in the way of Canada, who were runners-up in 2019 but have never won the event, are 28-time champions Australia after Lleyton Hewitt's team beat Croatia on Friday.

    The Australians have had a day to recover from their efforts, while Canada's success came on Saturday and they must look to carry momentum into the title match in Malaga.

    Lorenzo Sonego gave Italy a 1-0 lead over Canada by beating Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in an opening clash that lasted three hours and 14 minutes.

    That piled pressure on Auger-Aliassime in the next rubber, as he took on Lorenzo Musetti, but it did not show as he powered to a 6-3 6-4 victory to tie the overall match and set up a decisive doubles contest.

    Canada captain Frank Dancevic chose Auger-Aliassime over Shapovalov to partner Vasek Pospisil against Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini, and the decision paid off as they earned a 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win.

    It has been a super 2022 already for Auger-Aliassime, who has won his first four singles titles on the ATP Tour and climbed to number six in the rankings, and the year could be crowned from his perspective with the most prized team trophy in men's tennis.

    "It's been a special journey, special year," said Auger-Aliassime. "I think this is the most complete team that we have had in the history of Canadian tennis. I feel we deserve to be in that position now.

    "I have said it many times throughout the years, this is one of the goals I think for all the guys to go far and to win it all.

    "I'm really proud of everybody's effort. It's been a great journey. It's the last day tomorrow of Davis Cup for this year, so we're ready to give it all."

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    Lleyton Hewitt hailed a mighty Australian effort as his team reached the Davis Cup final with a stunning win against Croatia in Malaga.

    Max Purcell and Jordan Thompson beat the Olympic champion pair of Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in the deciding doubles to earn a 2-1 team victory and set up a showdown on Sunday against Canada or Italy.

    Borna Coric got the better of Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first rubber on Friday, earning a 6-4 6-3 victory to put Croatia in the driving seat.

    After a shock title success at the Cincinnati Masters in August, Coric was looking to end his year on another huge career high.

    However, Marin Cilic could not seal the deal for Croatia as he slumped 6-2 6-2 to Alex de Minaur in the surprisingly one-sided tussle that followed.

    De Minaur broke the Cilic serve four times and held his own throughout, typically with plenty of comfort, as he took down the 2014 US Open champion.

    That meant the contest came down to the doubles, and Purcell and Thompson held their nerve in a gargantuan battle with Mektic and Pavic, coming from behind to score a 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 6-4 victory.

    "I couldn't be prouder of the whole team," team captain Hewitt said, quoted on Tennis Australia's website.

    "We knew we were the underdogs coming into this today and we like being in that position. It's a place I really enjoyed as a player and also as a captain."

    Hewitt was a star of the team when Australia last won the Davis Cup or even made the final, all the way back in 2003. That was the country's 28th triumph in the competition, and now they have a chance to go after number 29.

    "To put us in the final, that feeling, I can't describe it," said Thompson.

    Canada face Italy on Saturday in the second semi-final.

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