Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Sports / Tennis

From slaloms to slams, Sinner faces life's ups and downs in his own way

Updated: 2024-02-02 09:28
Share - WeChat
Jannik Sinner poses with Australian Open trophy in Melbourne on Jan 29. AP

ROME — Jannik Sinner's career so far can be defined by the choices he has made, and the freedom he had to make them.

For instance, when, as a kid growing up in the German-speaking area of the Italian Dolomites, he chose tennis over skiing — even though he had won a national junior title on the slopes.

Or the decision to leave home at age 13 for the Italian Riviera to enroll in a tennis academy.

And finally, when on the cusp of greatness, he decided to leave his longtime coach, took a step back and created his own personalized team — the team he had in his corner when he won the Australian Open on Sunday, becoming the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam singles title in nearly a half century.

It all started when his parents left him alone at an early age to find his way, while still teaching him a solid work ethic.

"My parents are special because when I (came) back from school my parents were not there, they were working and I always used to go and ski," Sinner said Wednesday during an hour-long news conference upon his celebrated return to Italy. "When I came back home at 4:30 pm, my mom used to be at home, but I sometimes went to play tennis, or a little bit of football."

Sinner's parents worked in a ski lodge, where his father was a chef and his mother was a waitress.

"That's the kind of mentality they gave me: 'If you want to reach something, you have to work for it'. This kind of work ethic you can learn, but most of the time it's because your parents give it to you," Sinner said.

While his parents sometimes join him on the tennis tour, they still work — his mother runs the family guesthouse, Haus Sinner, and his dad helps out in the restaurant when he can.

"They are always working, and that's what I love about them," Sinner said. "They're not changing anything with me. I'm a normal person, who is the same as I was when I was a very young kid with a big dream. It's just that now, I'm 22 years old, but I still have a big dream.

"It's all work, there are no secrets," Sinner added, "or, maybe, it's working more than everyone else."

Sinner landed in Rome on Tuesday and then visited Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni.

After the rooftop news conference at the Italian Tennis and Padel Federation headquarters, Sinner headed to the Colosseum for a photo shoot.

The last Italian man to win a Grand Slam singles title was Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open.

In November, Sinner also led Italy to its first Davis Cup title since 1976 and he, and the other team members, were expected to be honored by the country's president, Sergio Mattarella, on Thursday to conclude his whirlwind tour in the Italian capital.

"I'm calmly taking it all in," Sinner said. "I feel the warmth and the importance of it from the people ...But I'm still the same kid as before."

Sinner was widely questioned when he left his longtime coach, Riccardo Piatti, two years ago after he had just entered the top 10, but he has improved under the coaching pair of Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill.

"I wanted to throw myself into the fire. I wanted to try a different method," Sinner said. "Who knows, maybe if I had stayed as I was, I would be even better than I am now … My team doesn't need to be the best team. The important thing is that they're all good, normal people. That's what I was looking for."

So, has Sinner revised his goals now that he's won both the Davis Cup and a Grand Slam and is ranked No 4 in the world?

"I know I still need to improve physically and in terms of my fitness, which can help my tennis," Sinner said. "I can do everything better. A lot of important steps have been taken, but there's still work to be done."

His immediate goal is to continue climbing the rankings, and become No 3.

"I'm taking it one step at a time," Sinner explained.

At one point, Sinner thought he would be taking those steps in skiing. He won an Italian championship when he was eight and placed second nationally at age 12.

"I was really good," Sinner said. "But, then I had a couple of so-so seasons when I started competing against older athletes in slalom and giant slalom, and when downhill came into the picture, I weighed too little to compete.

"So I kept on playing tennis," he added. "In skiing, if you make a mistake you're out; it's a dangerous sport and you need to get up early in the morning and venture outside in frigid temperatures. Tennis is a bit more accessible. In the end I think I made the right choice."


Most Popular


What's Hot
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349