“There is pressure, but it is always positive, from people who want good for me and support me in difficult moments.”
The 21-year-old continued, “You have to be smart and know how to use the crowd card. I played all over the world and the Italian crowd is really different! When I enter here into the main stadium or the Pietrangeli stadium, the atmosphere is unique.”
As evidence of the change of status of the red-haired player with a childish face, his pre-tournament press conference was not held in an ordinary room without windows next to the main stadium, but rather in a more elegant place inside the Al Ittihad Hall overlooking the famous Foro Italico stadium.
Despite his young age, Sener (1.88m) knows the size of the expectations placed on his shoulders, after a good start to the season in which he reached at least the quarter-finals in seven of the eight tournaments he played. And in the Masters 1000 tournaments, the highest after the major tournaments (GrandSlam), he reached the Miami final, the semi-finals of Indian Wells and Monte Carlo, as well as a seventh title in his career in French Montpellier (250).
Rome is still waiting for an Italian crown for nearly half a century, when Adriano Panata won the 1976 title. Some see Sinner as the player capable of putting an end to this fast.
“It represents a huge opportunity that Italian tennis has never known in its history, very strong and young,” Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Benaghi told AFP.
He recognizes Sinner’s sporting importance as well as his ability to “attract fans and sponsors” around Italian tennis.
About his chances of being crowned in Rome, where he will face Alexander Shevchenko in the third round on Sunday, Sener says cautiously, “We’ll see… I don’t like comparison. Many before me have achieved important things. There is a lot of work to do in order to achieve this kind of goal.”
“I trained well and I feel good,” added the player, who was born in a village on the Austrian border.
He returned to the competition after withdrawing from the Barcelona quarter-finals at the end of April, then the Madrid tournament.
The player who is not afraid to say that he is “capable of winning the big matches”, regained his rhythm this week with joint exercises with the Serbian star Novak Djokovic, the defending champion and the great candidate for a seventh title in Rome, despite doubts about the condition of his right elbow.
Siner is not worried about the Serbian champion, “He was good, on the field. Training is always different from matches, but +Noli+ has exceptional experience.”
He continued, “When he faced difficulties in the past, he always regained his position in Rome. This year, too, he will be ready for Roland Garros (May 28-June 11).”
With Djokovic, Sinner shares a second passion: AC Milan. And if he was disappointed to lose the Rossoneri in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals in football against his neighbor Inter 0-2, the Italian still believes in turning the tables, “We can win if we are two sets behind…”.