Jannik Sinner plays down comparisons to past Italian sports legends - UBITENNIS
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Jannik Sinner plays down comparisons to past Italian sports legends

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Jannik Sinner beat Holger Rune 6-2 5-7 6-4 to secure first spot in the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin to win the Green Group with a perfect 3-0 record. Sinner backed up his wins against 2019 ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and world number 1 and six-time ATP Finals champion Novak Djokovic in the first match on Tuesday evening in a packed Pala Alpitour.

 

“I bounced back in the third set just like I did against Novak Djokovic. This victory  means a lot, coming back after such a long match with so many emotions. I was still able to win the big points”, said Sinner. 

Sinner clinched his first win against Rune in their three head-to-head series. Rune had beaten Sinner in the semifinal of the Sofia Open in 2022 and in the semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters 1000 in 2023.

Sinner has become the first Italian player in history to reach the semifinals at the ATP Finals in the 54-year history of the end-of-season tournament. The Italian star needed Hubert Hurkacz to win a set against Novak Djokovic in the afternoon match. The Pole took the second set against the world number 1 sending the Italian into the semifinals. 

Sinner has become the fourth player to qualify for the ATP Finals since this event was first staged in 1970, after Adriano Panatta (1975), Corrado Barazzutti (1978) and Matteo Berrettini (2019 and 2021). None of Sinner’s predecessors were able to reach the semifinals. 

Sinner played two matches in the 2021 edition as alternate after Berrettini’s injury. 

“For me it was really important to reset after the good win against Novak. I never won against Rune, so I really tried my best. I started off very well. In the second set, he served better, he moved better, so it was a much more even match. The third set could have gone his way. I saved a break point at 4-3. It was a little bit of a roller coaster today, but I am obviously really happy to be in the semifinals”, said Sinner. 

Sinner has earned his milestone 60th win this season. He has won four titles in Montpellier, Toronto (his first Masters 1000 tournament) and two ATP 500 in Vienna and Tokyo and is two matches away from winning five level tournaments in a single year for the first time in his career. 

“It means for sure more doing it here in Italy. It’s a special place, a special tournament. It’s a privilege to be here. I feel more pressure in Italy, but it’s a positive pressure. The crowd gives me a lot of energy. I am very happy that I have the chance to have at least two more matches. Hopefully I can finish the year in a good way. I think it’s going in the right direction, and let’s what’s coming”. 

Sinner has won 16 of his most recent 17 matches and will face either Danil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz or Alexander Zverev in this Saturday’s semifinal. 

In the recent weeks Sinner has often been compared to the biggest stars of Italian sport like Valentino Rossi, Alberto Tomba and Federica Pellegrini. Sinner plays down the comparisons with the legends of Italian sport. 

“If I think about Alberto Tomba and Valentino Rossi, they have achieved crazy results. They are at another level. It’s a bit too much to be compared to them. They achieved many great results throughout their careers and had a longer career. In my opinion comparing me to them is a bit too much. They have won much more, They have had a much longer career. I am just 22 years old and I have just started winning my trophies”, said Sinner. 

Sinner is contributing to make tennis more popular in Italy. Three million spectators watched the match between Sinner and Djokovic.

“Many kids are starting playing tennis. We great coaches, but we cannot forget that Fabio Fognini won in Monte-Carlo in 2019 and Berrettini reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021. Italian tennis is growing. People watch tennis matches on television more frequently than in the past. Tennis is different from other sport disciplines like football, where you know exactly how long matches last. Tennis matches can last half an hour, three or five hours in a Grand Slam and often you don’t know when it starts. Watching long matches with 7-to 8-year-old children can be burdensome, but the fact that they get informed and watch a piece of the match is very nice”, said Sinner. 

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Luca Nardi beats Flavio Cobolli but it’s not enough to advance to the semifinals at the Next Gen Finals

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World number 115 Luca Nardi overcame Flavio Cobolli in an Italian match 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-3 (7-1) 1-4 4-3 (7-3) in 2 hours and 14 minutes in the final round robin match of Green Group at the Next Gen Finals at King Abdullah Sports Club in Jeddah. 

 

The win was not enough to earn a semifinal spot for Nardi. Arthur Fils is the first player to qualify for the knock-out stage. The top seeded Frenchman will face Dominic Stricker later today. Stricker needs to win just one set to reach the semifinals. 

Both players went on serve in the first set en route to the tie-break. Cobolli earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-4. 

Nardi saved two break points in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. The world number 115 broke serve in the sixth game to close out the second set 4-2. 

Cobolli converted his second break point in the first game of the third set. Nardi pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nardi opened up a 3-0 lead with two mini-breaks. Cobolli pulled one of the two mini-breaks back for 1-3. Nardi won the final four points with two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-1. 

Nardi clutched his groin when he was serving at 0-1 in the fourth set and called a medical time-out at 0-3. Cobolli earned a break in the second game to close out the fourth set 4-1. 

Cobolli saved two break points to hold serve in the second game. Nardi fended off two break points in the fifth game. Both players held on serve en route to the tie-break. Nardi earned his first mini-break with a backhand flick from out wide to take a 2-1 lead. Cobolli pulled the mini-break back to draw level to 2-2. Nardi closed out the match with a return down the line winner.   

Nardi hit 27 winners to 12 unforced errors. 

“I am happy with the win. Even if I did not qualify, I think today was the best match I played out of the three. I am a bit sad I did not qualify, but I did not want to leave Jeddah without a win. I kept fighting today and I am happy”, said Nardi. 

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Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah

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Hamad Medjedovic edged past Luca Van Assche 4-2 2-4 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 to move to 2-0 In Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah one day after winning a marathon five-set match against Alex Michelsen. 

 

Medjedovic broke serve in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. He held serve and saved two break points in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2. 

Van Assche saved three break points at 2-2 before breaking serve in the sixth game  with a running forehand pass to seal the second set 4-2. 

Medjedovic earned a break point in the first game of the third set, when Van Assche made a double fault. Van Assche saved them to hold on his serve. Both players held on serve en route to a tie-break. Van Assche raced out to a 5-1 lead. Medjedovic won three consecutive points to claw his way back to 4-5. Van Assche earned three set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6, but Medjedovic won the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7. 

Medjedovic left the court for nine minutes for a bathroom break. 

Medjedovic broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. When he was serving out the match, he saved three break points as he closed out the win with two unreturned serves. 

“For sure the tie-break changed a lot of things in this match. He had three set points. I stayed focused on the important points. I was consistent, hitting the ball hard, and I am glad that I won the tie-break”, said Medjedovic. 

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Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah

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Jordan’s wild card Abdullah Shelbayh beat world number 97 Alex Michelsen 4-2 1-4 4-0 4-0 to clinch his fourth top 100 win. Shelbayh moves to 1-1 in Red Group. 

 

Shelbayh hit 26 winners, including seven aces. The Asian player will face Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic in his third round robin match. 

Shelbayh earned the first break in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. The wild card held his next two service games at 30 to close out the first set 4-2. 

Michelsen, who reached the ATP 250 final in Newport last summer, broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Shelbayh made a backhand error. 

Michelsen earned a break point in the first game of the third set, but Shelbayh saved it with an ace. The Jordanan player held serve before breaking serve to close out the third set 4-0. Shelbayh won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the fourth set 4-0. 

“Having the opportunity to play here now to finish here, I could not ask for a better end to the year. I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I have been receiving already, throughout the year and from the Arab world especially. It makes me happy to represent my country. There is some pressure but you feel like it’s good pressure to have on you shoulders when you are representing your country and the region you come from”,said Shelbayh. 

Shelbayh improved his ATP ranking from world 470 to 185. His tennis idol is Rafael Nadal. Shelbayh has trained at the Rafa Nadal for more than five years. Toni Nadal flew to Jordan when Shelbayh was 13 years old to recruit him to train at the Rafa Nadal Academy. He became the first Jordanan player to win a main-draw ATP Tour match last April against Elias Ymer in Banja Luka. 

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