Jannik Sinner became the youngest Italian in the Open Era to reach an ATP Tour championship match on Friday, as he battled past Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5 to reach the Sofia Open final.
He will attempt to become the youngest ATP Tour titlist since Kei Nishikori won the 2008 Delray Beach Open by VITACOST.com. The San-Candido native will meet Vasek Pospisil or Richard Gasquet in the championship match. Sinner has not met either player at tour-level.
Here is what Sinner said to the journalists on the virtual press-conference in Sofia:
Congratulations on your victory against Adrian. What does it mean to you to achieve your first ATP level final at such a young age?
For me it is obviously great to be at the final here. And obviously playing one more match for me is more important. Playing me first final this year is good, in the last tournament of the year, and trying to finish in the best possible way. So I am very happy for the final and looking forward for tomorrow.
Did you have a specific plan of attack to beat him this afternoon?
It’s obviously [I was] going to the court with one plan, trying to do the things which you would like to. Than it is possible to change something. He was serving well. I still had to manage how to return his serve, trying to let him move a little bit. He has a very good backhand, it’s coming very flat. So you have to go down with the knees. It was a little bit physically match for sure. You go on the court with one plan but you always have to manage the situation. And I think today it was well.
Another accomplishment for you already, it is still very early in your career. How much are you sort of absorbing this as it goes, or is it sort of a roller-coaster, and you are sort of riding the wave? What’s the whole experience like?
You work for wining matches, and I think I’ve been working a lot, and I still work a lot. Playing finals is good, it’s a nice feeling. I’ve missed it a little bit the Challenger lever, the Future level. I could be the NextGen, but final is so special. I think it is good to be on finals, it’s a great feeling and you try to play your best tennis, even if in the finals it’s not easy, there is more preassure. I’ll try to go on court in the best possible way, and then will see how it goes.
You talk about focusing on every day, each match. How much this winning means to you? What is it like to win a tennis match?
It means a lot, because when you work day after day, you go to sleep when you are completely done, when you are very tired. You work for winning. You always have to trust the process. There are difficult times and good times. When you play finals it’s good, that is what you are working for. For me the hard work is the practice, the gym. I enjoy playing matches. It is not that hard mentally for me to play the match, it’s always practice. I think like this, and when you win, it’ a good feeling. And you always want more. Unfortunately the years is gone but, but I already try to focus on 2021.
Congratulations on the winning! Your favorite football team Milan is on the wins. Can you tell us about yous passion to Milan?
I like Milan. I’m a big fan and they are playing well, which is very nice to see. They are winning matches so it’s good, positive. For me I always enjoy when they play. I wish them good luck and I hope they are going to win everything what they want to. Everyone wants that and I wish them they can achieve their goals.
Do you want to be the next Zlatan Ibrahimovich in tennis?
He is an incredible person. When he came to Milan, he kind of changed a little bit Milan with his personality, his hard work. It’s impressive to achieve his kind of levels of everything. It’s not just going to happen one day, you have to work and work. It’s though, and in person we are a little bit different. But I think he is an incredible person not only in football.
Congratulations on your win. Do you want to talk about that second set?
For me was very difficult to return his serve, as I said before, and trying to find the way somehow to handle that one. I was serving ok, nothing special. From the base line I felt well, even if he had a tough ball, but somehow I managed that. When I broke his serve, I went a few steps back, and from that advantage side I moved a little bit in, because he was serving slice balls incredible. I always try to find the solution somehow on every match. I think today that was the key and I am very happy.