In the first match of the ATP Finals, Jannik Sinner’s swift 6-4, 6-4 victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Turin, Italy elicited “Olé, Olé, Olé Olé, Sin-ner, Sin-ner” chants, making the crowd sound like boisterous soccer fans in a stadium.
When Sinner attempted to respond during an on-court interview, the fans’ impassioned singing was so overpowering that all he could do was step back, smile and utter “Grazie.”
“The feeling is this,” Sinner reflected. “Kind of a football stadium. Also with the roof closed, it’s a little bit louder. It’s nice. It means that the people, they really care about me.”
As the face of the tournament, Sinner displayed no signs of nerves at the season-ending event for the year’s top eight players. The crowd fervently supported him with chants of “Vai Jannik” (“Go Jannik”) and signs that read “Facci Sognare” (“Let us dream”).
The 22-year-old Sinner asserted his prowess with blistering baseline shots and a strong serve, all to the crowd’s delight.
Sinner’s remarkable year includes claiming four titles, including his first Masters 1000 trophy, and reaching a career-high No. 4 in the rankings, the highest an Italian has achieved since Adriano Panatta nearly 50 years ago.
Notably, Sinner exhibited newfound touch when he scored a backhand topspin lob winner while on the run early in the second set. He sealed the match with a remarkable ace on match point, finishing the contest in an impressive 1 hour, 25 minutes.
“The match went really, really well and the crowd support was crazy,” Sinner said. “It’s not just about improvement, it’s about destinations and the destination I wanted to reach this year was to be here.”
Throughout the match, Sinner’s served nine aces to Tsitsipas’ six and didn’t face a single break point.
“He definitely has improved his serve, and he showed it today,” Tsitsipas said. “There wasn’t much I could do.”
Tsitsipas, the 2019 champion, had cut short a practice session on Friday due to an apparent physical issue but he said he was absolutely fine.
Later in the green group, Novak Djokovic was to revive his budding rivalry with Holger Rune, needing only one more match win to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record-extending eighth time.
Matches in the red group on Monday feature Carlos Alcaraz vs. Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev vs. Andrey Rublev. The top two finishers in each group advance to the semifinals.
AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.