Like mother like son when Stefanos Tsitsipas draws maternal inspiration for the success of the Monte-Carlo Masters

Stefanos Tsitsipas with his mother Julia and father Apostolos

The Monte-Carlo Masters is now one of the most prestigious events on the ATP Tour, with only the male tennis elite setting foot on its iconic clay courts.

Over the years some of the sport’s most iconic champions have graced the event and won titles, though not always just at the top of the game.

This tournament used to host junior events, not only for the rising stars of the ATP Tour but also for the junior WTA players because they wanted to move up the rankings.

In 1981, the girl’s title was won by Julia Salnikova.

The daughter of leading footballer of the Soviet Union and Olympic gold medalist Sergei Salnikov, she was only 17 years old when she lifted the trophy.

Salnikova proved to be a Fed Cup (now Billie Jean King Cup) strongman for her country during the early 1980s, but failed to progress too far on tour.

She achieved a career high of 194 when she returned to tour in 1990 after taking a break to study, currently representing Greece, after taking citizenship due to her marriage.

Although Salnikova may not have reached the pinnacle of her career as expected after winning such a prestigious junior event, 40 years later she has become a significant figure in the game.

Because she is the mother of Stefanos Tsitsipas, a 22 year old Greek who recently won one of the biggest titles of his career in Monte-Carlo.

Tsitsipas’ father, Apostolos, had been his son’s main coach for many years, but it was the Greek mother who provided the most inspiration.

“The first time I walked the Monte-Carlo Country Club with my mother, I think it happened when I was six years old. She shows her name up there. I remember seeing it for the first time. I was dumbfounded. I was like, ‘Wow. That’s really cool, “said Tsitsipas.

The world number 5 had not come close to winning in Monte-Carlo before this year and has faced criticism for failing to win enough major titles, with four of the previous five coming at ATP250 level.

However, with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal losing early, it was the Greek who took advantage of the opportunities presented to those still in the draw.

Tsitsipas did not drop a single set throughout the event, beating rival Andrey Rublev quite comprehensively in the final to claim his first Masters 1000 title and sixth career title overall.

Although the victory can only be considered as another step in his development, listening to Tsitsipas shows there is no doubt that his mother’s success in Monte-Carlo was also important to him.

“I thought that it would be cool to be here together, like a mother like a son. That’s where all the goals come from, “he said. “I feel a lot of desire to want to do more to be there with my mother.”

Very few players have the natural talent and talent of Tsitsipas. When the likes of Djokovic and Nadal fade or retire, it’s hard not to see him as one of those who won multiple Grand Slam titles and reached the top of the ATP Rankings.

However, while nothing can be guaranteed in the future, the name Tsitsipas is guaranteed to be on display at the Monte-Carlo Country Club for decades to come.

Next to his mother.

Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @jessicajofficial

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