Hard work and maintaining his physical and mental health are priorities for Italian teenager Jannik Sinner climbing the tennis rankings.
“It’s a long way to go to take every step,” Sinner said in an interview with Reuters after reaching the round of 16 at the French Open, where he will face the ultimate challenge on clay against Rafael Nadal.
“You can take every step with hard work and a lot of dedication, making sure you have the right people around you. I have the best team around me.
“They know where I want to go and where they want to push me, and that’s very good. It takes time, you have to gain experience,” he said. “I know what to do.”
The 19-year-old Sinner, whose serenity on the pitch refutes his youth and is in contrast to the volatility of his Italian compatriot Fabio Fognini, has increased the ATP rankings to make it into the top 20.
Sinner became one of the best ski racers under 12 in Italy before he left his native South Tyrol to work with tennis coach Riccardo Piatti on the Italian Riviera.
He already has a Grand Slam quarter-finals and two ATP titles under his belt, but says he’s not worried about the placements at the moment.
“In the next few years I will not pay attention to my ranking. I know what to do, how to go and Riccardo knows it. He has taken this path many, many times.”
Sinner, who is in 11th place in the ATP race, has started an Instagram series entitled “What’s Kept You Moving” in which he talks about mental health amid COVID with Italian sprinter Filippo Tortu and Paralympic fencer Bebe Vio -19 pandemic speaks.
“I have people who are close to me, my team, my family, I feel good with them and I am physically healthy. My parents are healthy, my friends are healthy, I’m healthy too, ”he said.
“Of course there is a little pressure (in tennis), but I love going from one tournament to another.
“Of course I’m healthy and it’s tough, especially here at Grand Slams; there are the wheelchair players who unfortunately have to adapt to their lives and you feel all the more blessed that they are healthy and I feel sorry for them. If I have someone says I’m not healthy, nobody is healthier than me. “
He views failure as a learning experience rather than a source of frustration.
“At the end of the day, it’s tennis, you have to enjoy it,” he said. “At the end of my career, I want to be able to say ‘I’ve reached my limits’. We’ll see where I am.
“For me it is important that I enjoy playing tennis. It is fun to be on the court. Tennis is a game and I love to play it.”
Skiing is now a small part of Sinner’s life, but the teenager still manages to hit the slopes for Christmas when he returns to his hometown of Sexten.
“I am still allowed to ski. You cannot tell me that I will not ski, that would not be realistic,” he said.
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