As if a shock first-round exit at the US Open wasn’t painful enough, Stefanos Tsitsipas was also left ruing his lost shot at World No. 1 in the wake of his four-set defeat to Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan on Monday night.
The Greek was one of five players who had the opportunity at Flushing Meadows to hold the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking at the end of the tournament, but that dream is now gone.
“I was very motivated and pumped before the US Open started because I knew I could use this tournament to get closer to the No. 1 spot,” Tsitsipas said. “It would be very weird and very unusual if it didn’t cross my mind, because this is something I wanted since I was a kid and I know this is my chance now to step it up.
“It just didn’t go as planned. Sometimes you just need to let it go, you don’t need to overthink it, you don’t need to push yourself too hard but at the same time it’s difficult because there’s this open opportunity right in front of you, you don’t want to mess it up, you don’t want to waste it.
“My chances, I guess, are a bit smaller. The margin is not as thin as it used to be now after the US Open but I’m still going to try and add points to my ranking, as much as I can until the end of the year, I really want to perhaps finish in the Top 3… more opportunities ahead.”
Tsitsipas’ loss leaves defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud as the four players who now have a chance to be ranked No. 1 after the Open.
Tsitsipas received treatment during the match on his upper right arm but said that Galan’s ultra-aggressive play – especially on the return – was the bigger factor in the 6-0, 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 defeat, during which he lost the first 11 games of the match.
“My arm was pretty tight, nothing was coming off my strokes. I felt like my serve was very slow today, but it was close to the 120s, so I wouldn’t necessarily say that it was. But he returned great, extremely well. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the altitude where he grew up for sure helps a lot with this kind of stuff.
“It crossed my mind when I started playing him that might be due to that. He did a great job, he dominated the game completely. I just couldn’t get into the match at all, it was as if I was half-dead.”
Tsitsipas, who has never reached the second week at the US Open, is No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, while Galan surges 14 places to No. 80.
“He played like a world-class player and I played like close to an amateur, not very nice to say that, but that’s what happened,” the two-time Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion said.
“I was very well prepared, I was playing very well in practice, had some really good matches against different kinds of players. I felt like the momentum was in my favour, I just might’ve felt a little tense going into the match. US Open, I never really had a good history here but I do like the tournament a lot. Just need to work on the negative thoughts a bit more and not let them affect me and not get in my head, because I’m better than that, I’m a much better player and athlete, but definitely not today.”