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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrate Tsitsipas' victory against Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals.

Tsitsipas On Federer Win: 'I Didn't Crack Under Pressure'

Tsitsipas will play for the Nitto ATP Finals trophy on his debut

Stefanos Tsitsipas became the first Greek to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. And now, after a straight-sets victory against six-time champion Roger Federer on Saturday, the 21-year-old is one win from becoming the first player from his country to lift the trophy at the season finale.

“I'm really glad I played well, stayed calm,” Tsitsipas said. “It's a great moment not just for me, for everyone else, my country, my team. I'm proud of myself, how hard I fought today, how concentrated I stayed in the break points. Didn't crack under pressure. I was very composed and very mature in my decisions.”

Tsitsipas was happily greeted after the win outside his locker room by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who came to watch his country’s tennis star shine. There were plenty of Greek fans in the crowd at The O2 as well.

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“I did hear people yell my name and supporting me in Greek. It's important. It's important for the growth of the sport in our country,” Tsitsipas said. “I enjoy having people from Greece come support me, and I hope they do more often, because that makes me feel closer to playing home, let's say. [It] gives me a tremendous amount of energy.”

Tsitsipas began the week with five wins against Top 10 opposition this year. He has three victories against the elite group this week alone, and with a fourth, he will lift the biggest trophy of his career.

“This does feel, in a way, like a Grand Slam, because all eyes are here. Everyone knows this event. Everyone who watches tennis knows what the Nitto [ATP] Finals are,” Tsitsipas said. “For me, it's a great new start, great new beginning to be here, playing in the Finals. I would compare it almost as a Grand Slam, for sure, but you have less matches. It's really very difficult to be in that position I am in right now, and it counts a lot.”

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Tsitsipas faced an opponent in Federer who is as experienced as they come. The 38-year-old Swiss was playing in his 16th semi-final at the Nitto ATP Finals. But the Greek maintained his composure, saving 11 of the 12 break points he faced.

“I don't really see it as a pressure. I mostly see it as a challenge for me. He's up a break point, I see that as a challenge to overcome the difficulty,” Tsitsipas said. “It's something I try to avoid as often as possible, but it is tennis. He plays well. He gives me a really tough time on the court. He gets to his break points because he deserves to be there, but then I managed to stay composed and not think of too much, and just play.”

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After winning the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals, Tsitsipas began this season with a bang, reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open. On the way to the last four, Tsitsipas defeated Federer in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. With his win on Saturday, their budding rivalry is now knotted at 2-2. But in Melbourne, Tsitsipas was World No. 15. He will finish 2019 at No. 6.

“I can say I have improved since... I played him at the Australian Open. I have improved. I can see myself more as a grown-up now than then. The difference wasn't really big today. I just feel like despite being close to getting broken many times, he had plenty of break points, I felt like I wasn't serving bad,” Tsitsipas said. “He was returning really well, putting every return back and making me play, which I understood. That made it difficult. Two different Stefanoses from Australia and today.”