By Jane Voigt
Washington — Earlier in the week, top-seeded Stefano Tsitsipas admitted he would like to act someday. He admires Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper and the voice of Morgan Freeman. Who can blame him? Great actors. Oscar winners and, if not, Oscar worthy. The dream fits with his penchant to record his life on tour, which is readily available on YouTube.
The Greek native, who cracked the top ten in April, is 20. Expectations of crossing over to a Hollywood lifestyle only would come later in life. But he’ll have all the chances in the world to lengthen his drama dreams later Friday as he faces the 10th seed Frenchman Benoit Paire. In contrast to Tsitsipas, though, Paire acts out on court whereas Tsitsipas seems to realize the mind can be a slippery slope.
“I played very brave and very smart, and suddenly I start thinking about it a bit too much, and that’s what happens,” Stefanos told the press Thursday, referring to his inability to initially covert break points in his match against Jordan Thompson, who the top seed eventually beat 6-3, 7-6(4).
In contrast Benoit Paire crosses the line frequently, which leaves him crazier as a result. Last year at Citi Open, Paire smashed three of his Babolat racquets in three minutes. The dramatic moment didn’t get much attention at the Rock Creek Park facility because not many people were on hand. But boy did social media blow up later.
Paire lost the match to Marcos Baghdatis in three sets, a first-round loss for the Frenchman. This year, though, Paire seems to have kept a lid on his eruptions and he’s through to the quarterfinals. Is there a connection? Well, it’s hard to say with too many variables to consider. However more players than Tsitsipas have concluded that the mind is the final frontier on tour. “It’s all between the ears,” John Isner mentioned in his pre-tournament interview this week, who, by the way lost to Paire Thursday.
Tsitipas and Paire will open the evening session on Friday, if thunderstorms don’t ruin the party. They played once in Metz, France (2017), where Paire won 6-2, 6-4. In terms of tennis, that’s ages ago, especially considering that Tsitsipas was still playing mostly on the Challenger Tour. Paire has no points to defend here but Tsitsipas reached the semifinals last year, which could pressure the young man.
“He’s [Paire] very unpredictable,” Tsitsipas said Thursday. “He plays with a lot of fierce and you never really know what to expect from him. Also emotion, and how he is on court. It’s going to be a tricky one.”