Aussie Stef was 'possible': Tsitsipas confirms Australian interest
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Aussie Stef was 'possible': Tsitsipas confirms Australian interest

Emerging young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas has stayed loyal to Greece, but it appears there was another option available to him: to be "Aussie Stef''.

Tsitsipas confirmed to Channel Nine that there were some discussions some time ago with his Greek father, who was acting as his agent, and Tennis Australia about a potential change of nationality for the purposes of representing Australia.

Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Greek young gun Stefanos Tsitsipas.Credit:AAP

While Tennis Australia was unable to verify any details of the approach - and indeed whether it was made - a spokesman told The Age that it was "safe to say there would have been conversations'' some time ago.

The possibility of Tsitsipas becoming Australian was raised by Australia's 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, who wrote in the Sunday Times that "there was a time in his formative years where he almost became an adopted Australian ... Tennis Australia explored the possibilities and were given quite a bit of encouragement''.

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Such approaches are not uncommon for Tennis Australia, which "recruited" Daria Gavrilova as a teenager - she represented Russia until 2015 - while Ajla Tomljanovic became an Australian citizen in 2018 and is ranked in the 40s.

Tsitsipas told Nine's Linda Pearce (off-camera) that while Tennis Australia supported players well, playing for Greece was a great honour.

"I know Tennis Australia is a great federation, they support their players very well,'' Tsitsipas said following his dramatic four-set upset of Roger Federer. "But playing for my country, playing for Greece is the biggest honour I could ever have.''

While Tsitsipas has garnered an instant following of Greek Australians at Melbourne Park this year, he has no family background or close links with Australia. His mother was a Russian-born tennis player and he grew up near Athens.

Tsitsipas is viewed as a potential multiple major winner, his fourth-round victory over Federer seen as one of the sport's most significant results of recent times, comparable to Federer's own upset of Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.

Tennis Australia can lure players who are interested in becoming Australian with coaching expertise, access to conditioning programs and world class facilities. European or ex-Russian players invariably receive far more attention as Australians - given the grand slam status of the Australian Open and the national tennis heritage - than they would if they retained their original nationality.

Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age. He writes news, commentary and analysis on a variety of other sports.

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