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Sinner relishing chance to ‘dance in pressure storm’

Jan 30,2024 - Last updated at Jan 30,2024

Italy’s Jannik Sinner celebrates with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy after defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in the men’s singles final match on day 15 of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Sunday (AFP photo)

MELBOURNE — A composed Jannik Sinner is ready for what comes next after winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, saying he likes to “dance in the pressure storm”.

Ever since bursting on the scene as a 17-year-old in 2019, the Italian has been touted as one of tennis’ future greats.

It has been a five-year grind to reach the pinnacle with his come-from-behind five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne on Sunday, and the prodigious young talent is taking it in his stride.

“I’m extremely happy that I am in this position now. I have a great team behind me who knows what I have to do,” he said of the extra spotlight that will now inevitably fall on him.

He pointed to having Darren Cahill in his corner as a coach, with the Australian having been there and done that.

Cahill guided Lleyton Hewitt to become the second youngest player ranked world number one before coaching Andre Agassi to become the oldest player to achieve the feat.

He has also worked with a host of other high-profile players including Andy Murray and Simona Halep, guiding the Romanian to the French Open title.

“With Darren, he has a lot of experience. He has been through this already a number of times,” said Sinner.

“So, you know, it’s all part of the process. Obviously having this trophy, it’s an amazing feeling. I feel grateful to have this here.

“But I know that I have to work even harder, because the opponents,... will find the way to beat me and I have to be prepared. Let’s see what’s coming in the future.”

A striking aspect of Sinner’s time in Melbourne was his calm and composed demeanour, even when he found himself in trouble.

Against an ultra-aggressive Medvedev, he did not panic when he fell two sets behind, instead looking for chinks in the Russian’s armour and when a chance arose, he took it.

A privilege 

“There is always pressure, but the pressure is something good. You have to take it in a good way. It’s a privilege, no?” he said.

“So yes, I like to dance in the pressure storm. Personally, I like it, because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis. I’m also quite relaxed in this occasion, because I always try to enjoy being on the court.”

The 22-year-old is the first Italian man to win a Slam since Adriano Panatta in 1976 and the youngest man to win the Australian Open since Novak Djokovic in 2008.

It capped a highly successful six months for Sinner, who clinched his maiden ATP Masters crown in Toronto last August.

He backed that up with titles in Beijing and Vienna before reaching the championship match on home soil at November’s ATP Finals and guiding Italy to Davis Cup success.

For Sinner, it has been the result of long-term thinking by him and his team.

“I think what I did not last year, but two years ago, getting to know my body better, getting to know my team better. This was a very important step for me,” he said.

“Then last year we tried to have some more results. That made me believe that I can compete against the best players in the world.

“But [here] I still have to process it, because beating Novak in the semis and then Daniil in the final, they are tough players to beat.

“So it’s a great moment for me and my team, but we also know that we have to improve if we want to have another chance to hold a big trophy again.”

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