Next Gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas has revealed he is having problems with his lungs after practicing in smoky conditions. The air pollution reached ‘hazardous’ levels in Melbourne earlier this week which saw several qualifiers collapse in the smoggy conditions.
Tsitsipas is one of the youngsters tipped to step into the shoes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when the trio retire.
He is also expected to be one of the closest challengers of the Big Three at the Australian Open over the next fortnight.
However, the Greek star will have to overcome breathing issues as he faces a race against time to be 100 per cent fit for his first-round clash with Salvatore Caruso.
“It was happy until I was about to land and I saw the smoke over the city. I was like, ‘What is this?'” Tsitsipas explained.
“First two days here were pretty unusual. I will share the story again with you. I went to practice for around one, one and a half hours. After I practice indoors, I felt really bad with my lungs.
“It’s getting better day by day. I had a practice session today, as well. It’s much different than it was when I first came.”
Tsitsipas will get his Australian Open campaign underway at 7pm (8am GMT) on Monday and he is hopeful the issue will be fully cleared by then.
He added: “I’m feeling okay now, but I was a bit concerned.
“I was coughing a lot, had trouble breathing for a couple of hours. Now it has gotten better.”
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Tsitsipas really stamped his mark on the ATP tour at the 2019 Australian Open as he knocked Federer out in the fourth round.
The 21-year-old feels he has developed a lot over the last 12 months, which ended with him clinching the ATP Finals title.
“I found more balance within me,” he said. “Before I was very inconsistent with my emotions. I could become in a few of the matches suddenly angry and frustrated.
“I think – I think – although I had two tantrums in ATP Cup, in Mubadala, I don’t know if that really went viral, I was really embarrassed to see myself in such situation. I guess I was just holding everything and it exploded at some point.
“I’ve been really working on this. I think being balanced in my head and thinking in a straight line will help me. I’m going to try it. I mean, I hope it helps me grow as a player.
“Also I think balance is important for someone to grow. If you are just one day on, one day off with your emotions, they can cost you.
“Really looking forward to this new challenge that I have in front of me, to show something.
“You know, I have great memories from here last year, semi-finals, living the dream, playing with so much adrenaline. I really enjoy the crowd, the people’s energy here.”
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