LONDON (Reuters) - Stefanos Tsitsipas said he had left “something in the tank” during his near three-hour defeat by Rafael Nadal at the ATP Finals on Friday as he focused on the weekend.
The 21-year-old Greek had already assured himself of progress from his group with superb displays to beat fellow young guns Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev.
But as hard as he tried he could not subdue a relentless Nadal who kept his semi-final hopes alive with a 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 win.
Such are the complexities of the ATP Finals format it meant Tsitsipas, the first Greek to qualify for the exclusive event, still did not know whether he had won the group or come second.
Whether he was preparing to face six-time champion Roger Federer or Dominic Thiem, however, he said he was ready, admitting he had held something back against Nadal.
“It was kind of funny. During the match I thought about it a couple of times, but at the end I really wanted to win, and that win means a lot to me because it’s against a tough player, the current world number one,” he said.
“So I came very close, and I would say I did leave something in the tank. I didn’t really go full, full. I could have gone even more full than that but I’m not disappointed by that.
“I wanted to win but probably wasn’t willing to die on the court for that. Despite that, things went well, really well.”
Tsitsipas lost to Nadal in the Australian Open semi-final in January — his breakthrough Grand Slam — and has backed up that run with a consistent year, winning two titles and reaching three other finals.
His stylish game has made him a favourite with the O2 Arena crowds this week and the world number six is looking forward to going for the title at the weekend.
“My body feels well currently,” Tsitsipas said. “I don’t feel pain anywhere. I feel fresh. After having a long, difficult match like this, I feel like I can go out and play tomorrow the same way. So I don’t have any problem with that.”
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Kirsten Donovan