A champion really was born


I am surprised and even dismayed by a boy who, as soon as he can, thanks his mom and dad for "taming me when I was little" because "I was doing disasters at home". Parents so open and courageous, Hans Peter and Siglinde of Val Pusteria, to deliver their fourteen-year-old son to trusted but unknown gentlemen who took him to Bordighera to make him a professional tennis player: this also displaces a bit. And it frightens me when, rereading his first interviews, I discover that a year ago, from number 760 in the world, Jannik already had everything clear in his mind and imagined being on the field today to contend for the title of ATP Next Gen champion to someone like Alex de Minaur, then just defeated in the final by Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The communication strategists would say that it "pokes the video" even when it's silent. Or when he says things that are too sensible like "I don't think I can go to Madrid for the Davis Cup next week. I'm still young, I have to work with my team for the season that starts shortly ”. If he speaks, he is as sharp as his long-distance winners, after which he raises his fist and returns slowly behind the baseline line.
There are so many good trivial tennis players, but the best – from Federer and Nadal, from Djokovic to Del Potro – have something that goes beyond technical excellence and allows them a constant dialogue with the public: "I love that people play together with me ”, says Jannik, but it could be a sentence from Nole. This is confirmed by the more than four thousand who follow him from the stands of the Allianz Cloud on a tennis evening that Milan had dreamed of for too many years. They go crazy when they see it in the first set get the break at the last possible opportunity, not even giving a fifteen to the Australian. Or when, immediately afterwards, he finds himself under 15-40 but recovers thanks to the passers-by of right that Alex can only follow with his eyes. On the momentum, he collects four more points and wins the break that is enough to secure the second set. The third set repeats the scheme: breaks and service shifts with risks reduced to a minimum. It ends 4-2 4-1 4-2 in 64 minutes, then it is the apotheosis.

What Sinner will be one of the masters of the future is written in the chronicles of these days: the two games of the Finals that he has dominated are those with the seeded heads 1 and 2, de Minaur and Tiafoe, players now expert and accustomed to attending the upper part of the world ranking (the boy born in Sydney in 1999 is 18 ATP, the American was 29). This means that the concentration and determination of the young South Tyrolean adapt to the quality of the adversary. It is not necessarily a good thing, because tournaments are made up of many easy and then insidious card shifts. But it is still an excellent starting point.

He wrote to me via Twitter @gabbiano – who is Alessandro in his non-digital life – to see how I judge the last minute increase in Allianz Cloud ticket prices on the eve of the final. The question implies two preliminary considerations: there are too many 242 euros for an hour of match between the numbers 18 and 95 in the world; there would have been no adjustments upwards if there had been no Sinner today but one of the other six Finals protagonists to face de Minaur.

To Alessandro and to the many who make legitimate criticisms I point out that the rise in prices as the availability of a good decreases is common practice: if I wanted to fly tomorrow from Malpensa to London with Ryanair I would pay 212 euros, while if I could postpone to Sunday November 24th I would pay, today, a twelfth of the same amount, 18 euros. The Finals tickets were put on sale three months ago at very popular prices and on September 16 it was announced that Jannik would receive a wild card for the tournament: it was a matter of betting on the possibility that an 18-year-old boy had the numbers for get to the final and maybe win it, as it happened. If Alessandro / @ 75gabbiano had asked me that day, I would have told him that yes, those numbers have them all. Finally, allow me a question: who, in hindsight, would not have paid who knows how much to see, on February 5, 2001, Roger Federer triumph for the first time in an ATP tournament right here, at Palalido? Sinner was not even born that day: now perhaps he can aspire to at least partially inherit the legacy of the greatest of all. In short, the 242 euros must be considered an investment, because those who spent it will always be able to say: "I was there that evening".

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