Jannik Sinner: “I have always been calm, the mind is the only thing that can be controlled” |  Tennis |  Sports

Jannik Sinner: “I have always been calm, the mind is the only thing that can be controlled” | Tennis | Sports

Jannik Sinner: “I have always been calm, the mind is the only thing that can be controlled” |  Tennis |  Sports

Two weeks after winning the Australian Open and winning the first major tournament of what promises to be a fabulous career, Jannik Sinner (San Cándido, Italy; 22 years old) smiles from the other side of the screen and responds to a small selection of international media, including EL PAÍS. The messy hairstyle and red hair give him a relaxed air that has nothing to do with that competitor on ice who seems neither to feel nor to suffer, who rallies like an automaton and who grows as the rally progresses. gains in intensity. When he puts on the cap, the young Italian is transformed. “Well, when I was six or seven I was angry, yes, but I wouldn’t say much. In general, I have always tried to be calm and I have been calm for a long time,” he responds during a conversation in which he shows the same poise that guided him to the tennis elite, where he has already fought face to face against others, two references of the moment, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

To get there, Sinner followed an unusual journey. He grew up playing football and, above all, going down the dolomitic slopes of his region, next to the border with Austria. He became a national ski champion at the age of eight, but preferred snowshoeing. “I think it helped me achieve good body balance and also in sliding, but it’s very different. The fear you feel in skiing is different, because when you throw yourself down, anything can happen, and tennis isn’t that dangerous,” he says. He didn’t choose the easy route either. more common to access the elite circuit. He abandons the intermediate ladder and launches directly into professionalism. “I have always enjoyed facing rivals who are better than me, because I think it is the best way to test myself and “learn new things. I played a few junior tournaments when I was 15 or 16, but then I started in the eventually (With the challengers, the prelude to the ATP circuit). Be among the top five or ten ranking junior was not important to me; The important thing was to try to overcome these difficult moments on a track,” he explains.

Daily life in his parents’ restaurant also contributed to forging a virtually unchanged mentality. An emotional stability that reminds his head coach, Darren Cahill, of the way the Swedes Björn Borg and Mats Wilander handled delicate moments. “Obviously, sometimes I get angry because I feel tired, but I generally have good control over my head. It’s something I’m pretty confident in. I think I’ve taken a step in this direction over the last two years, especially last season, to understand myself a little better. In the end, the mind is the only thing you can control,” he continues, aware that the last months and especially the success achieved in Australia have brought it to the forefront and that, therefore, the The story will change from now on.

Sinner, during training in Rotterdam.ROBIN UTRECHT (EFE)

If last year was a tight face-to-face between Djokovic and Alcaraz, the current one offers a suggestive alternative which was immediately noticed this season, in Melbourne. There, a recital. A real walk. Other ko against the Serb, the third in less than three months. “Yes, of course. I feel like they respect me more now, but at the same time everything is different, because they know me much better and know what my weak points are. I have to prepare for it and that’s why I’m training myself to react to this situation which is new. Others already know how I play. In this sense, before I was little known, but now everyone, or at least the majority, doesn’t. will have nothing to lose against me, and it’s something different because my rivals will play with less pressure,” he anticipates.

In any case, Sinner – now back, present at the Rotterdam tournament these days – assures that the Australian blow or the growing fame does not change his plan in any way. “There is always pressure, but I put the most pressure on myself; The rest is not something that concerns me,” declares the world number four. “Reach one?” Yes, but there are still three big meetings and I would like to do better than last year. At Wimbledon I reached the semi-finals and it won’t be easy to improve on that; at Roland Garros, I reached the second round; and at the US Open I reached the round of 16. One of the goals is to do better in these tournaments. But I’m going step by step. To be one, you must first go through two, and before that through three. We will see what he can do this year,” he adds with his characteristic humility.

Sinner poses with the Australian trophy on January 31 at the Coliseum.Giampiero Sposito (Getty Images)

They say that he is a very un-Italian Italian, or that he does not meet the prototype of an Italian. Content, white and cautious, silent and sober in action, he says that he only took a few days off after the Australian summit and that when he went to Rome to be received by President Giorgia Meloni, he got up early to strengthen his physique. in the gym. “Now I get more attention, but nothing has changed,” he emphasizes in English, a language he speaks alongside German. “All we know is that I have to improve if I want to achieve the following goals,” he continues, demanding “to be a more complete player” and predicting a bright future in which he, Alcaraz ( 20 years old) and the Dane Holger Rune (20 years old) is called upon to take the reins of his sport if a few rebels do not join.

“Everyone has a different style of play and we are also different mentally, and that’s a very good thing,” he says, while acknowledging the parallels with Djokovic. “Yes, I think my tennis is similar to Novak’s. We both played well from deep, but we also tried to go to the net and slipped the same way. I feel lucky to have met him, Federer and Nadal, even if Roger is unfortunately no longer here. I tried to observe everything they do inside and outside the locker room to learn,” he continues before answering the last question, if he will go as far as expected: “Ugh , it’s hard to say where I will be in a match. decade, but I hope I can look back and say I was able to enjoy every moment. The important thing now is to have a group of good people behind me who I can trust. You can’t know what might happen in the future, but it’s valuable to have the right people around you, to walk the journey together. “That’s what it’s all about.”

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