It might not have been the Nitto ATP Finals debut that Jannik Sinner had been dreaming of, but the 20-year-old did more than make the most of it – he made as statement. The Italian kept the home flag flying in Turin as he earned his first win against Hubert Hurkacz in commanding fashion 6-2, 6-2.
And he did it with only a few hours to prepare: World No. 11 Sinner was in Turin as the first alternate, after narrowly missing out on direct qualification. When his countryman Matteo Berrettini found himself unable to compete due to an abdominal injury, Sinner was called on to replace him in the draw.
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“I found out around 5:00 p.m. today,” Sinner revealed in his post-match press conference. “Obviously, [the match] was first supposed to be at 2:00 p.m., but they moved it to 9:00 p.m. to give [Berrettini] some more time to see if he can play or not. I was ready, I was waiting but I didn’t know at what time he would decide.
“I have to say, I felt [good] today on court. I tried to play my best tennis, which I did in the moment. I’m very happy about my performance today.”
Disappointing as it was to see his friend injured, Sinner took his opportunity and stepped into the spotlight at the Pala Alpitour to claim a statement victory. He dropped just four games against the Miami champion Hurkacz, and his serve was not broken in the 6-2, 6-2 romp.
Sinner Rocks Turin Debut With Hurkacz Win
Looking at past results, Sinner’s game excels on indoor hard-courts – three of his five career ATP titles have come on that surface, including two in 2021 at Sofia and Antwerp. He has also compared the courts at Turin to the ones in nearby Milan, where he showed his best tennis in 2019 when he captured the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals trophy – a message to the rest of the Red Group.
“The courts are quite similar to Milan during the Next Gen [ATP Finals]. I won there a couple of years ago, and now I’m here,” he reflected. “They are quite fast, and I feel well on these courts.
“And of course, the atmosphere is amazing, everyone cheering here for me and for Italy. Playing in Italy is special because you stick together and you want to win together, and I had this feeling today. When the whole stadium is playing [with you] against one guy, it’s not easy.”
As a result of his standing in the Red Group, Sinner still has a slim chance to qualify for the semi-finals – if he does, he would be the first alternate in Nitto ATP Finals history to do so. He has to defeat Daniil Medvedev in order to give himself a chance, but Hurkacz (0-2) must also defeat Alexander Zverev (1-1) for Sinner to go through.
“I just try to stay focused on my next match and trying to play great tennis,” Sinner said. “That’s my first goal, because if you want to win against Daniil, you have to play your best tennis. He’s No. 2 in the world. He won a Grand Slam this year and a lot of tournaments, as well. So it’s going to be a tough challenge.”
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Regardless of the outcome, the 20-year-old is determined to make the most of his experience in Turin. Sinner has already lifted a career-best four ATP Tour trophies this year, and secured his Top 10 debut in the FedEx ATP Rankings earlier this month by taking things one match at a time.
“At the moment I’m just happy about today’s match. Tomorrow I will go on court to practise, and then we’ll see what’s coming,” Sinner said. “Of course, you want to go on to the semi-finals, you’re trying to do your best but on the other hand, these are the best eight players in the world. And with me, nine. Everyone is tough to beat here, so let’s see what’s coming.”