FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Stefanos Tsitsipas was hustled out of the singles in the second round by Swiss lefty Dominic Stricker – a four-hour, five-set marathon, but in vain.
Still alive in doubles with brother Petros, and without a coach on site for either brother, girlfriend Paula Badosa is on the job.
Badosa, who had played sparingly the last few months and ended up pulling the plug on both the US Open and her season just before the start of the tournament, no doubt will be a regular presence as the ATP Tour leaves North America for the last part of 2023.
Here she was, on the job, as the brothers warmed up for their second-round doubles match Saturday morning against No. 2 seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek.
They were pushed up by a walkover in the opening match, and practiced literally almost right up to their “not before noon” start time on Court 6.
Then they hustled back to the locker room (it’s entirely possible Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t even change) and made it to the court right next door, Court 5, to warm up about 12:10 p.m.
Might as well have just hopped over there.
(Update: unfortunately the bros are out – losing a tight one, 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4 in 2h48 to the No. 2 seeds).
As it happens, Badosa is the only coach the brothers have on hand.
Because it turns out Round 2 with coach Mark Philippoussis lasted about as long as round one, maybe even less.
Tsitsipas will no longer be working with Mark Philippoussis. https://t.co/FLaq6FFFiY— Vicky Georgatou (@VGeorgatou) August 30, 2023
So it seems likely Pops will be back on the coaching trail soon enough.
Here is the now-former twosome on the practice courts before the start of the tournament.
Drama in the opening round
In their first round, the Tsitsipases got past David Vega Hernandez of Spain and Miguel Reyes-Varela of Mexico, a pretty good team, 7-6 (2), 6-4.
But not without some drama.
At one point, Petros Tsitsipas semi-ducked to get out of the way of a ball that was flying long.
It appeared, from close by (and on replays) that it had well cleared his head.
But chair umpire Emmanuel Fernandez called a touch.
The brothers were gobsmacked.
Cleared his head by THIS MUCH!!!!! – Stefanos Tsitsipas
Well, okay, that might have been a bit of a reach.
Okay, THIS MUCH!
Still a reach. But as you can see in the photo gallery below, they argued quite awhile.
Eventually, they got back to playing. But the next time they ducked and a ball went out, the umpire got the smirk treatment from the elder brother.
Here’s what they looked like on court during that first-round win.