01:28 PM GMT April 03, 2020
Since flying back from Indian Wells a few weeks ago, I’ve been at my apartment in Monte-Carlo, unable to return to Italy, where the coronavirus pandemic isn’t very good. First of all, I’m trying to stay safe, but I’ve also started working hard on my fitness and conditioning. With the Tour suspension, there hasn’t been time yet to hit a ball. In the past six years, the longest period I didn’t hit a ball was when I damaged my ligaments and I was out for three weeks. Then, when I returned, I started slowly without moving a lot.
Right now, I’m waking up at nine o’clock, having breakfast, then at 10, I train for 90 minutes with my physical trainer Dragoljub Kladarin. Dalibor Sirola, who is in Croatia and can’t move either, sends Dragoljub programs. We first work on mobility and stability in the morning. I rest a bit, then at around 12:30, I eat something and rest some more. Around 3pm, I leave my apartment to go to my garage downstairs and I work for up to two hours on my strength. Once I finish for the day, I shower, play on my PlayStation — games such as Fifa and Fortnite — eat and sleep. It looks like I have to do this for three or four months now!
You may have seen how I’ve created the #SinnerPizzaChallenge, in response to the Coronavirus, on my social media. The response has been very good. I’d really like Roger, Rafa and Novak to make a pizza, but I know they have their own initiatives to focus on. The idea is to create my face or the face of an Italian on a pizza, then tag it #SinnerPizza or #SinnerPizzaChallenge. It would definitely be difficult to recreate my hair right now — it’s a bit long! The idea is to donate money to Bergamo, which is in a bad situation with many people dying. My own effort wasn’t very good, the pizza was too hard. Growing up, my Dad was the cook, so I learned some dishes from him. I like to make easy pasta, as it’s always nice to eat.
I left home aged 13 to move to Riccardo Piatti’s tennis centre, so I’m used to cooking, cleaning and washing my own clothes. It was tough, but I grew up quickly as a person. Initially, I lived with one of the centre’s coaches, Luka Cvjetkovic, who had a wife, two young children and a dog, because I really needed a family around me. Riccardo was very smart in thinking about me, so being with Luka’s family made me feel better. I now live alone in an apartment, so I have to handle everything. Normally, I call my family every two or three days, but now everyone is isolating, I call each evening. Thankfully, my parents and brother, Marc, are doing well.
Hopefully, the Coronavirus will go away as soon as possible. I know every country is doing their best to lockdown. I do get bored easily, because normally I am always on the move. When I was younger, I went out to play with friends, sports like football with my classmates. I think it’s important to play a lot of sports, before you decide. Today, all I can do is relax, work on my fitness and watch TV series.
Hearing the news of the grass swing and Wimbledon’s cancellation, Riccardo and my team — Dalibor, Andrea Volpini and physiotherapist Claudio Zimaglia — will need to draw up a plan, so to be ready once tournaments resume. Over the past 12 months, I’ve improved my forehand, but during this Tour suspension we still need to work on it, as well as my volley and serve.
One of the reasons for my rapid rise up the [FedEx ATP Rankings] has been due to playing older players, adults, as a junior. I remember losing in the Sharm El Sheikh first round and telling Riccardo to put me in Futures events from now on. There were many tough times and lots of first-round losses, but since getting my first points [in February 2018], it’s gone very fast. Last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals title was very nice for me, of course, but I didn’t party of anything. I went to a Challenger tournament near my home and searched for the feeling of victory again. I am just trying to grow and improve day-after-day.
Thankfully, I have an excellent team and during this Tour suspension, I’m going to keep working as hard as ever. I hope everyone can stay healthy and safe until the situation improves.
As told to James Buddell.