The Greek freak wants to put in the hard yards down the road. Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t get the win on his 20th birthday and instead lost to Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6(4) in the Rogers Cup final. But the loss was not in vain because the Greek says he learned a valuable lesson from falling to Nadal on Sunday.

Tsitsipas says that the thing that stuck out most to him about the final is how big the gap between himself and Nadal is right now.

“How much gap there is between him and me in our games, and how much more I need to—I don't know,” Tsitsipas said. “I don't want to be rude, but bust my ass more on the court.”

The Greek became defeated four Top 10 players en route to his first Masters 1000 final, but in the end his takeaway was that he needs to work even harder to get where he wants to go.

Credit Tsitsipas for having the presence of mind to recognize his deficiencies and to view his defeat as a chance to further his development. Not all players would come away from a groundbreaking run to a final with such perspective, and it shows that Tsitsipas may indeed have what it takes to make good on all the potential he has shown in 2018.

Tennis Express

What does he need to do in order to get to the next level?

“Work more hours and become stronger and more solid baseliner,” he said. “And withstand pressures, physical pressures on the court that to [Nadal] it just seems like nothing special. That's the big difference between my game and his game.”

Tsitsipas has talked often about how he has watched Federer and Nadal closely, looking for clues to their success. He demonstrated a very good read on what makes Nadal so special and shared his observations after the final.

“And the patience that Rafa has is amazing,” he said. “He never cracks. He will always grab you like a bulldog and always will have you—he will always make you suffer on the court. And it is amazing what he has built as a player. I mean, he was … normal like all of us, and he managed to become this beast, this monster that he is today.”

Tsitsipas will rise to No.15 in the ATP rankings on Monday, up 12 spots thanks to his performance in Toronto. But he knows the hardest work has yet to be done. Thanks to Nadal, he was given a first-hand glimpse of what it might take, and he was paying attention like a good student.

“I need to work much more,” Tsitsipas concluded, “and hopefully I can reach his level one day.”