Tsitsipas, 20, who won his first title at Wuhan Open earlier this week, reveals he is having his second dose of the shot
Greek tennis star Stefanos Tsitsipas, the youngest player in the world’s top 100 and a rising star of the sport, has come under fire for saying he’s having his second dose of the diphtheria, tetanus and polio (DTaP) shot after finding out he has contracted the virus.
Dubbed “The Young Tsitsipas” by some, he said last week he had played “only one match in 12 months” because of the disease and confessed he had “not had a proper shot in my life”.
“People get tests because of who they are. I was only thinking of myself,” the 20-year-old said. “Now I have found out what I need to do, and in the next couple of days I will start having the second shot, to prevent it.”
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Tsitsipas later played down his remarks but the comment did not go down well with the Greeks who play the sport. The president of the Greek Tennis Federation, Spyros Kouladjis, said he was “very disappointed” with the player. “I don’t think the Greek tennis federation supports comments like this.”
His comments have also raised questions over the use of the double shot rather than using an injection which increases the immune system’s ability to battle infections.
The sport has long faced questions over its medication policy and athletes including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are known to have taken anti-inflammatory drugs to ease a persistent injury.
On Twitter, Tsitsipas said he “just wanted to clarify that I was joking. I’m all good.” But Kouladjis said “I don’t think there’s any difference” between a double shot and a syringe injection.
The Greek tennis player beat a Russian player, Dmitry Tursunov, in straight sets in the second round of the Wuhan Open but lost to Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.
The WTA and ATP issued a joint statement on Thursday, saying Tsitsipas’s views were “understandable given the current health scares surrounding the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine. We are pleased that Stefan has reassured fans that his comments were taken in the spirit in which they were intended and that he is now healthy and excited to compete in Wuhan.”
Tennis became riddled with infections after widespread use of the diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine.
There have been cases of diphtheria reported in western China, while the illness has also been reported in eastern Myanmar, southern India and parts of southern Africa.
In August a “very sick” Tsitsipas returned to competition for his home nation at the Hellenic Open in Fenerija, and later at a Davis Cup tie in Albania.
Tsitsipas did not return calls seeking comment but his manager Antonis Casilas tweeted that Tsitsipas still had not had his second dose.