08:00 PM GMT May 09, 2021
#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner continues to climb to new heights in 2021, from reaching his first final in Miami to a new career-high FedEx ATP Ranking. But amid a season of first times and tournament debuts, the 19-year-old is just looking forward to being back on familiar turf at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Sinner broke into the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time after his final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he reached his first Masters 1000 final. The Italian, who claimed his second tour-level title at the Great Ocean Road Open in February, went on to reach the second-round at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and semi-finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.
One thing all of these tournaments had in common for Sinner? He was playing each one for the first time, and had to adapt to a new venue and new conditions as he navigated his first full season inside the ATP’s Top 100.
“Obviously I think the past couple of weeks have been quite good, I have to say, starting from Miami then coming back on clay,” Sinner reflected in his pre-tournament press conference. “I actually played the first week quite well in Monte-Carlo. So [it] gave me a little bit of confidence for Barcelona and I played some good matches there.
“But at the end of the day, these were all new tournaments for me. I never played Miami or Monte-Carlo. It's good for me, making experience. With my age and what I'm doing right now, it's [about] trying to improve day after day.”
The 19-year-old is relishing the opportunity to be back at the Foro Italico to compete in his ‘home tournament’. Rome is the only ATP Masters 1000 event where Sinner has contested the main draw before this season, with a second-round finish in 2019 (l. Tsitsipas) and a run to the third round (l. Dimitrov) last year (both times with a wild card).
At the 2020 edition, Sinner turned heads with a roller coaster victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. The Italian triumphed 6-1, 6-7(9), 6-2, avenging his defeat to the Greek player in the previous edition.
“Here in Rome, especially for Italian players, it's like a home tournament,” Sinner said. “At the end of the day people know you a little bit better. For me, it's one of the most beautiful tournaments that we are going to play each year. It's nice to be here. I like the conditions. Rome is a little bit [later] in the beginning of the clay season, so everybody gets a little bit used to the conditions. It's nice to be here."
Sinner will face Ugo Humbert in his opening match in Rome. Humbert owns a 1-0 lead in his ATP Head2Head rivalry against Sinner after defeating the Italian 4-3, 3-4, 4-2, 4-2 at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals.