When they ask me “where do you want to be at the end of the year?”, I always have to smile. The outside world is often different from the one tennis players live in, or at least it is for me. It is not a question of classification. In fact, I don’t really like to talk about the ranking because it’s something I’ve never done and I don’t think I ever will. More than anything I like to set goals in a broader sense.
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For example, I would like to see myself grow physically, where I know I have a lot of room. And then mentally. Because at 20 you can’t be complete. Then there is the most important part of all for me: tennis.
Roger Federer at Roland Garros 2021
Photo credit Getty Images
Also because now everything is different. But different for the better.. Two years ago, when I came to the tournaments, I still didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what would happen, what the audience would be like, how my opponent would play. When you start, you are never sure if you have the level to be there. While now the situation is different. I know that my growth has been sudden and I know very well that my opponents now know me, they study me, they know my tactics and my strengths. But I know what I still didn’t know two years ago: that they can play with everyone.
Jannik Sinner roars with joy over quarterfinal win at Australian Open 2022
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I also know that this brings pressure, especially in Italy, where there is great expectation for me. But pressure is a privilege. I’m the first to pressure myself. I’m the first to want to win. I am the first to want to arrive. So as much as everyone talks, as much as everyone writes, I don’t feel like a problem. From a certain point of view I don’t even realize it, from another it is inevitable that from time to time something will come. But that is not a problem, on the contrary, it is part of the game. I accept it, it suits me. And then the solution is simple: there is a team that keeps me on track when things are not going well.
But I feel the same as two years ago. Of course, before there was no fame and outside the playing fields life was something else. But I haven’t changed. I don’t feel changed. I’m the same boy I always have. I know where I come from. I know who I am. I know who my family is, who are my parents, people who work every day. I have always done what I wanted, I have remained myself: this thing gave me a hand and has never changed. When I stopped skiing, for example, I did it and I jumped into tennis. Today I look at life with the same perspective, which is to be lucky enough to be able to do what I like.
What has changed just in case is in the phone book. Many messages arrive, there are many things. I learned that it is impossible to keep up with everything, too much energy is wasted. And so you can’t make a small selection, really keep only the people you care about close, otherwise it becomes impossible. The same goes for social media, which I’m trying to limit a bit. They are important, they must be, it is clear that they are an integral part of the life of an athlete, but the energies are really precious and staying in them for a long time costs mental energy. And in tennis, mental energies are everything.
The lockdown was a training ground from this point of view. After two difficult years, things are looking up. People have come out again, the public has finally returned to tournaments, which can also become a decisive weapon in a match. These were not easy times for anyone and the issue of the importance of mental health, for example, is still an important issue. There are many guys who still don’t open up. With parents, with friends. There is still a lot to do from this point of view, but not only in tennis, in life in general.
Coming back to tennis, a lot of things change with the start of the clay court season. In fact, everything changes a bit. Here you have to play differently, you have to look for more rotations, you have to look for more angles. You also have to serve in another way, because always pulling hard is useless. I am happy, because I feel that I can still learn many things on this surface. Monte Carlo was immediately a good test and I can’t wait to go again, I can’t wait to get to Rome.
I hope to find that atmosphere that I also found in Turin, that animating there is really special. The public can lend a hand, it can also be a weapon. And if you have the opportunity, you have to take it. Great days of tennis await me. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.
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Summary day 1: Fognini, possible derby with Sinner. 8 italians out
YESTERDAY AT 08:57