Unflappable Sinner becomes a Grand Slam winner

January 29, 2024 12:38 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Jannik Sinner said he was ready for the pressure and expectation that came with being a Grand Slam champion after becoming the first Italian to win the Australian Open by beating Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Being forced to come from two sets down in a first Grand Slam final would test the nerves of any player but the 22-year-old dealt with the pressure in the ice-cool manner with which he has met all success, and failure, over his young career.

“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 after his 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over the Russian third seed.

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“Because there are not so many players who have this kind of pressure but in the other way, when you have pressure, it’s always, okay, he believes that I can really do it.

“So yes, I like to dance in the pressure storm. I don’t know how to say. Like me personally, I like it, because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis.

“I’m also quite relaxed on this occasion, because I always try to enjoy being on court.”

Sinner had been widely tipped as a potential Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park this year after finishing last season as the hottest player on the ATP Tour.

He followed that by leading Italy to their first Davis Cup title in late November and on Sunday Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was quick to offer her congratulations.

“Jannik Sinner writes a new page of history today that makes us proud,” she wrote on social media. “For the first time, Italy wins the Australian slam. A memorable feat worthy of a true champion.”

Sinner said representing Italy was perhaps the most important part of his triumph.

“Being able to make them happy today, because I feel like… they push me also, that I can believe in myself and then having so much support, it’s amazing,” he said.

The closest Sinner got to betraying real emotion in his post-match media appearances was when he spoke about the way his parents had supported his dream but not put any pressure on him.

That said, he felt he was more than ready for the attention and expectation that joining the Grand Slam winners’ club would bring.

“I feel it’s part of the game, no?” he said. “Me, 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.

“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, they will find the way to beat me and I have to be prepared.”