Australian Open contender Stefanos Tsitsipas casts fitness doubts ahead of Melbourne Slam

Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas hopes to be back at full fitness ahead of the Australian Open – but he warned of pain in his elbow that places his participation at the Melbourne tournament in slight doubt. Tsitsipas took part in the ATP Cup in Sydney on Monday, suffering a three-set defeat to Diego Schwartzman in his first singles match is since withdrawing from the ATP Finals.

The 23-year-old underwent elbow surgery late last season, forcing Tsitsipas out of the season-ending tournament in Turin.

Despite leading by a set and a break, he wasn’t able to hold on in Sydney and Tsitsipas’ defeat contributed to Greece’s 3-0 loss to Argentina. 

Tsitsipas is unsure about participating in his next match on Wednesday – but he is positive about his chances of competing at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.

Speaking after his 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-3 defeat to Schwartzman, Tsitsipas told the BBC that he was ‘in a lot of pain’ after playing in the doubles on Saturday.

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But he then was a bit more upbeat about his fitness, when speaking to the tournament’s official website.

“It was good to see myself perform at such a level. I didn’t expect it”, the two-time Melbourne semi-finalist said on Monday.

“It worked out better than I thought. I was able to hit balls that I was scared to hit two weeks ago, so I’m heading towards the right direction.

“It gets better and better every single day almost. 

“We have plenty of time before the Australian Open begins, and I think if I take the right precautions and follow what my doctor says, then I can see myself performing at 100 per cent at the Australian Open.”

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Tsitsipas is the world number four and the Greek star is searching for his first major title.

Organisers of the Australian Open have made the decision to only allow players that have been fully vaccinated against Covid to compete.

The debate surrounding vaccinations has split the tennis world, with the ATP Tour encouraging players and offering incentives to get jabbed.

Ahead of the 2022 season curtain-raiser, Victoria state’s strict vaccination mandate had motivated players to get their jabs before the Australian Open, where fans and staff will also be banned if unvaccinated.

World number one Novak Djokovic has refused to reveal his vaccination status and there is growing uncertainty over whether he will be present at the Melbourne Slam. 

If Djokovic is out of the picture – and with legend Roger Federer and star Dominic Thiem sidelined by injury – there are several players that could step up to claim the major title, including Tsitsipas.

Australian Open qualifying begins on January 10, with the full tournament kicking off a week later and concluding on January 30.

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