Stefanos Tsitsipas has sent a warning to Novak Djokovic ahead of their Italian Open quarter-final on Friday. The 22-year-old, who beat Italian No 1 Matteo Berrettini 7-6(3) 6-2 in the round of 16, has reached the quarter-finals at eight of his nine tournament appearances this season.
This includes his stunning performance at the Madrid Open in April, where he valiantly lost 4-6 7-6(6) 5-7 to Rafael Nadal in the final.
And Tsitsipas says that he won’t change the way he’s playing despite facing world No 1 Djokovic, stating that he will refuse to get dragged into playing the Serb’s game.
“[Djokovic] has won here a lot of times,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview following the victory.
“For me, I’m just expecting to go out there and give my best performance. He can play on all surfaces, we’ve played each other at the French Open.
“I see [the next match] as an opportunity for me to do better this time, but I hope to keep playing the same tennis that I’ve been playing this time so far and be a challenge for him.”
Djokovic needed just over an hour to breeze past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 6-1 in the opening match on Centre Court in his round of 16 clash.
Reflecting on his victory, Djokovic said: “I thought I played well. He started well and broke my serve in the first game.
“I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court.
“I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.
“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward.
“I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully, tomorrow will be even better.”
Tsitsipas has lost four and won two of his matches against Djokovic, with both of his wins coming on outdoor hard courts, at the Shanghai Masters in 2019 and the Canada Masters in 2018.
In the pair’s most recent meeting, Djokovic outlasted Tsitsipas 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 to reach last year’s Roland Garros final, where he lost 6–0 6–2 7–5 to Nadal.
Djokovic was also victorious in their other meeting on this surface, defeating the Greek 6-3 6-4 in Madrid in 2019.