Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece returns the ball during the ABN AMRO Open tennis tournament in Ahoy Rotterdam on February 16, 2023

Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) - Australian Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas downplayed his expectations for the Indian Wells ATP Masters on Wednesday, saying he’s still battling the shoulder injury that saw him pull out of Acapulco last month.

The world number three from Greece, seeded second in the prestigious hard court tournament in the California desert, had been hoping to build on his run to the Australian Open final, where he fell to Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic.

But he picked up a shoulder injury after his Melbourne run, and even though he’s entered in both Indian Wells and the Miami Masters he said his “main priority is getting my body ready and fixed for the clay court swing.”

“I’m still in recovery,” he said. “Personally I haven’t said it a lot of times in my career but I don’t think I will be capable of going deep.

“It’s a very unfortunate injury at this time of the year because I had a very good strong start to the year.

“I consider a Grand Slam final a good result to start the year with and one that I was unfamiliar with before.

“However, it’s important to keep faith in a daily procedure to get back healthy.”

Tsitsipas, seeded second behind world number two Carlos Alcaraz – with Djokovic still barred from the United States because of his decision not to be vaccinated against Covid-19 – has a first-round bye and is scheduled to open his campaign against either French veteran Gael Monfils or Australian Jordan Thompson – who play Wednesday night.

Monfils, 36, is returning to action seven months after he retired from a match in Montreal with a foot injury that turned out to be a plantar fascia rupture.

It will also be Monfils’ first tournament since he and his wife, WTA player Elina Svitolina, welcomed the birth of daughter, Skai, in October.