Sinner's Turin Intent: 'Be Brave At Every Moment'

  • Posted: Nov 07, 2023

Sinner’s Turin Intent: ‘Be Brave At Every Moment’

Italian has won past four matches against fellow Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers

Success on the ATP Tour isn’t always about racking up the most wins. It’s also about who you beat, and when.

Jannik Sinner knows all too well what toppling a close rival on a big stage can do to a player’s confidence. The World No. 4 has won nine of his past 11 matches against Top 20 opponents, including his past four against players who join him in the field at this year’s Nitto ATP Finals.

After becoming an ATP Masters 1000 champion for the first time in August in Toronto, Sinner defeated Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev back-to-back to lift the trophy in early October in Beijing, before doing the same against Andrey Rublev and Medvedev later that month to notch another ATP 500 crown in Vienna.

“When you [feeling] confident, it’s always a little bit easier to play, but you have to gain the confidence,” Sinner told last month. “It’s not that you can buy it. It’s a very important part. Obviously [it builds up] the more matches you win, but also against what kind of players you win is important. So [the Beijing wins] were very important.”

Sinner had arrived in Beijing with starkly contrasting records against Alcaraz and Medvedev. His straight-sets semi-final win against Alcaraz in the Chinese capital moved the Italian into a 4-3 lead in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series, but he entered the championship match against Medvedev without a win in the pair’s six previous tour-level meetings.

“I would say it impacts you a little bit at some point, but in another way, in your mind, you know that every time is completely different when you step on court,” said Sinner, when asked about how past experiences with an opponent can affect him. “Obviously, you can feel that.

“It may be certain game styles can match a little bit better than against other ones, but I think generally, you just have to be ready for the day. Don’t think about the past, even if you’re up in the head-to-head. You have to be really brave at every moment.”

Sinner did just that in China, dominating a pair of tie-breaks to break his duck against Medvedev, before backing up that win by with a three-set triumph against the same opponent in the Vienna final. While the mental baggage of his six previous defeats to Medvedev may have been a challenge for the 22-year-old to overcome, Sinner feels that tactical tweaking actually helped him turn the tide.

“I think it was more [about] tennis than the mental side, because I changed up my game a little bit against him,” said Sinner. “Before I was not feeling ready to do it, and practising every day in the right way. I tried to make it happen. I did it, but obviously it is also mental because you also have to be ready to do it in the match. So I think it’s a mix of tennis and also the mental side.”

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The ability to adapt his game to take on different opponents at the top level could be key for Sinner as he prepares for his second Nitto ATP Finals appearance on home soil. Unlike in 2021, when he competed as an alternate after injury ruled out his countryman Matteo Berrettini, Sinner is in no doubt that he deserves his spot at the prestigious season finale.

“It was a tough moment for me because Matteo hurt himself,” the Italian told the ATP Tennis Podcast. “It was tough to play for him, but I felt like I handled the situation well. I also played really well in the two matches, so I’m looking forward to coming back to play as a real qualifier.

“I feel like you feel better when you [qualify directly], because if you’ve qualified it means you had a very good year and obviously, I’m very happy to be there in this situation.”

There will be plenty of eyes on the three youngest singles qualifiers this year in Turin. As well as the 22-year-old Sinner, Alcaraz and Holger Rune (both 20) will look to wrap up their stellar 2023 seasons with a strong showing on their respective Nitto ATP Finals debuts. Sinner is excited at the prospect of sharing the Pala Alpitour stage with two of his former junior rivals.

“It’s nice, I think, for the sport, to see the young players coming through,” said Sinner. “It’s really nice to be part of this rivalry, because it is kind of a rivalry and hopefully we can all show some good moments there and a good level. We’re looking forward to it.”

Unlike Alcaraz and Rune, of course, Sinner will be able to rely on home support as he looks to build on his 1-1 Nitto ATP Finals record. Regardless of how things turn out, the opportunity to compete on home soil again is one he will cherish.

“The crowd is behind me and obviously I will try my best to make all the fans as happy as possible and try to win as many matches as possible,” said Sinner. “I also have to enjoy the moment. It’s going to be a good moment for me and hopefully it’s going to be a good tournament.”

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