World No.4 Stefanos Tsitsipas has moved to ease the tension between he and Andrey Rublev by apologising for “very unfair” comments towards the Russian star.
Tsitsipas and Rublev are both in Saudi Arabia for the Diriyah Tennis Cup, starting on Thursday, which features a who’s who of men’s tennis.
Rublev knocked Tsitsipas out of the ATP Finals in November and the Greek hero then lashed out with a salty press conference.
Watch Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev at the Diriyah Tennis Cup from December 8-11. Streaming ad-free, live and exclusive on Stan Sport
Tsitsipas said he felt like he was the “better player” despite the loss and added that Rublev “prevailed with the few tools that he has”.
“What I said in that press conference against Rublev was very unfair towards him and not correct,” Tsitsipas said.
“I do regret saying that, yes. It was not very good for me, I was extremely hurt that I wasn’t able to go all the way at the ATP Finals, it hurt me a lot.
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“I tried to let some bad energy out but that wasn’t the responsible or the good way, even if I wanted something out of it, it wasn’t the right way to do it.
“Definitely, if I would see him I would like to apologise to him for thinking like this about him because it’s definitely not how I think about him in reality…
“Andrey is an excellent player.”
Tsitsipas and Rublev are part of a 12-player field that also includes Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini, Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Cameron Norrie and Dominic Stricker.
Lleyton Hewitt and Alex de Minaur recently aired their frustration at Kyrgios, claiming the Wimbledon finalist made himself unavailable for the Davis Cup final to chase a six figure payday in Saudi Arabia.
The tournament winner will pocket $1.5 million with the runner-up claiming $750,000 and the semi-finalists $375,000.
An unapologetic Kyrgios told reporters he was aiming to boost the sport’s popularity.
“Personally, I love going to places where they may not know so much about tennis and going there to try and draw some attention and get them to enjoy it, I think that’s important,” Kyrgios said.
“When I retire from tennis I want to know that I left a mark and made a lot of new fans of the sport. I think it’s a bonus for me to be able to play these matches and feel that match pressure still throughout my training block is going to be crucial for me and use that to get a bit of a head start on everyone else that’s not able to play these matches.”