Sinner’s Stunner: 17-Year-Old Reflects On Maiden Title
The streak lives! For the seventh year in a row, a 17-year-old has lifted a trophy on the ATP Challenger Tour.
On Sunday, it was Italy’s Jannik Sinner who provided the latest fireworks, surging to his maiden title on home soil in Bergamo. Born in the town of Innichen, located along the Italian-Austrian border, Sinner marched to the title on the indoor hard courts of the Trofeo Faip-Perrel.
With the Next Gen ATP Finals getting ready for a third edition in Milan from 5-9 November, the Italian contingent has a strong contender to punch his ticket. Not only did Sinner clinch his first professional title, but he became the youngest Italian to triumph in ATP Challenger Tour history. He routed countryman Roberto Marcora 6-3, 6-1 for the title on Sunday.
At the age of 17 years, six months, Sinner is the youngest winner on the Challenger circuit since Felix Auger-Aliassime at the 2017 Copa Sevilla. Auger-Aliassime became the first player born in the year 2000 to clinch a Challenger title and now Sinner is the first titlist born in 2001.
Sinner’s run to the title is remarkable considering it was just his fourth Challenger main draw appearance. He became the youngest player in the Top 500 with the victory, vaulting 222 spots to a career-high No. 324 in the ATP Rankings.
The Italian spoke to ATPChallengerTour.com after lifting the trophy…
Jannik, congrats on winning your first Challenger title. How does it feel to lift the trophy?
It really felt amazing. I can’t describe my emotions. I came to Bergamo very relaxed and didn’t think about winning the tournament. But I knew I had the level to be able to play with everyone. Round-by-round I played very well. I’m so happy!
It was an amazing week for you, winning six matches against very good opponents. How did you do it?
Last year I had a mental block against Top 500 players. I couldn’t beat one. Here in Bergamo it was the first time, then after the first round I felt very good. I just trained only an hour before the first match. I asked to play on Tuesday, but I had good feelings right away and I’m very happy.
To win your first title is special, but to do it at home is even better. How did the crowd help you this week?
I have to say that the public has helped me a lot. I like to play in front of a lot of people and when I come out of the tunnel it’s a good feeling. It loads you with energy. They helped me a lot.
What did you enjoy most about Bergamo in your first time playing here?
I like the city a lot. Even outside it’s all very simple. I really like centre court because it is surrounded by the stands. Then when it’s full it’s a nice thing to play here.
You are the youngest Italian to win a Challenger title in history. What does that mean to you?
Honestly, I didn’t even know. During the warm-up the speaker said it, but I was calm, I had not thought about it. I am very happy to have won.
This was just your fourth Challenger main draw. Did you expect this success to come so quickly?
I knew I could go to the last stages and get this level. I didn’t think about winning. When I won the third round against Salvatore Caruso, who is a very solid player, I thought about it. I knew that there are many players who win their first title at a young age, so that gave me confidence.
How important was your preseason training? What did you and your team work on?
The preparation for me is very important. We worked on tennis, but also on the physical part in the gym. There were days when I only did physical work. I think everything started from there, then I went to Tunisia with the wrong mentality and I had a bit of confusion in my head. Now I found myself and I hope to continue in this way.
Seven Straight Seasons With A 17-Year-Old Champion
|2018||Rudolf Molleker, Felix Auger-Aliassime|
|2017||Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nicola Kuhn, Denis Shapovalov, Wu Yibing|
|2014||Alexander Zverev, Borna Coric|
Going from juniors to Futures to Challengers is a difficult transition. How tough is the competition at this level?
At the beginning it’s difficult, especially on the mental side. Playing juniors didn’t interest me very much and I always wanted to make ATP points. These are important points and I hope I will get into other Challenger tournaments. Now I have a lot of confidence.
Who is your role model? Is there any player that inspires you? Why?
For us, in South Tyrol, the idol is Andreas Seppi, the first one to have done something important in tennis. But now I would like to do better than him. My idols are big names like Federer and Djokovic. I would like to arrive like them and not just among the Top 30. Seppi has done great things, but I hope to go even further.
For those of us who don’t know much about you, tell us something. What do you enjoy doing off the court? Do you have any passions outside of tennis?
First of all, skiing when I’m at home, in winter. I like doing everything, playing football and moving around a lot. I enjoy being outdoors and I don’t like to remain inside. I also prefer to watch movies at home because it’s quieter, even if it’s sometimes with friends. I think I’m a very normal person like this.
You are in contention to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. How cool would it be to get there?
For the moment I don’t think about it. The season is still very long, things can change. Last year I was there, I played the Red Bull sponsored tournament and I could see how it works with the new rules. It is very stressful, with deciding points and shorter sets, but it would be great to be there.