Jannik Sinner Reveals Why He Chose Pro Tennis Over World Cup Ski Racing

Jannik Sinner (photo: Peter Power/Tennis Canada)

WASHINGTON, August 16, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

As Sunday’s victory news conference for Jannik Sinner, winner of his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers was nearing its conclusion, the 21-year-old from South Tyrol – an accomplished snow skier – was asked what kind of skills he had transferred from skiing the Italian Alps to playing tennis on all kinds of surfaces around the world.

While it’s a question Sinner, no doubt, has been asked many times – the good sport he is – Sinner politely answered the question. It was a break for him after answering numerous queries about his garnering his most significant title to date.

“The only skill I would say is maybe the sliding and the balance on court,” Sinner explained. “Maybe that’s the only thing. Generally speaking, it’s a completely different sport.”

Sinner, who begins play today ranked sixth in the world at the Western & Southern Open near Cincinnati against qualifier Dusan Lajovic, said one of the reasons he chose tennis instead of pursuing a career as a professional skier was because in tennis “you don’t really have to be afraid of [anything] because nothing can really happen.

“In skiing, you know, when you fall down, you never know if you break something or not.

“So, that’s one of the reasons, if not the reason, I chose to play tennis. And, even if you miss one ball, you have lots of opportunities to win the match, which is another scenario why I prefer tennis. And, you know, in a ski race, you make one mistake … you cannot win, no?”

Sisterly encouragement from Serena to Venus

After Venus Williams earned her first Top 20 win in four years, rallying from big deficits in both sets to earn a 6-4, 7-5 victory over World No. 16 Veronika Kudermetova on Opening Day of the Western & Southern Open, the 533rd-ranked Williams said her younger sister Serena, winner of 23 major titles before retiring after last year’s US Open, texted her.

“She’s encouraging me to rise to be my best, because she knows what I have inside of me. She knows what position I’m in. She knows what it’s like to have something to give, but you just need that opportunity.”

Rybakina says poor Montreal scheduling could have been avoided

Make no mistake, Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan was the victim of poor scheduling at last week’s National Bank Open in Montreal, a WTA 1000 event. She was right to call out the WTA’s lack of leadership and tournament organizers in her post-match news conference following her rain-delayed semifinal loss to Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova on Sunday afternoon after not finishing her rain-interrupted quarterfinal against Daria Kasatkina of Russia until 3 a.m. Saturday morning. It’s not surprising that Rybakina lost her semifinal after being sleep deprived.

“It’s the first time and hopefully the last time,” Rybakina said in her news conference on Sunday after losing to Samsonova. “Because I think it’s been a little bit unprofessional from, I cannot say really the tournament because I think that the most important is the WTA here. Leadership is a bit weak for now, but hopefully something is going to change because this year [there were] many situations which I cannot really understand.

“After such a short sleep, it was tough to play. We could have avoided this situation easily. … I don’t know why we didn’t. … I’m not disappointed with the loss. It was kind of expected. I’m disappointed with the situation.”

Rybakina said she felt destroyed by then the Montreal scheduling. “I feel destroyed just because of the scheduling and the whole situation. I’m not really happy about it, but it is what it is. Players can’t do much in these situations. The weather wasn’t helpful.”

With the US Open starting in less than two weeks on Aug. 28, Rybakia, who had her right shoulder taped on Sunday, hopes she can recover in time. She said: “The worst thing is that it’s not about this tournament; it’s going to be not easy to recover for the next two weeks.”

Passing shots

• Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark is now 1-2 in two tournaments after losing 6-4, 6-4 in the opening round of the Western & Southern Open to No. 45 Varvara Gracheva of France, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser replacing injured Elina Svitolina of Ukraine. The 33-year-old Wozniacki was 0-for-9 on break points.

Reilly Opelka of the United States, who has been sidelined all season while recovering from hip and wrist injuries and hasn’t played on the ATP Tour since at Washington, D.C. last year, and Zhang Shuai of China, have withdrawn from the US Open, which starts on Aug. 28. The announcement was made by the U.S. Tennis Association.

Juan Manuel Cerundolo of Argentina and Caroline Dolehide of the United States move into the men’s and women’s main draws, respectively.

It’s the second straight US Open that Opelka has missed. His best showing at a major came when he reached the fourth round at the US Open in 2021.

Zhang is a two-time major quarterfinalist in singles and a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles.

• In a first for Grand Slam tennis, the US Open is introducing video review to let players challenge calls on things like double bounces, whether someone has touched the net or hindrance.

• Last Saturday, the Czech Republic became the first nation to win both boys’ and girls’ titles at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals since the United States in 2008.

By the numbers

For the first time at an ATP Masters 1000 event since 2013, all of the current Top 20 players are in action this week in Cincinnati.

On Monday, World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland officially passed Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki for most weeks at No. 1 among active players.

“Quotable …”

• During her Media Day news conference at the Western & Southern Open this week, Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur referenced a famous quote of Rafael Nadal. She opined:

“Rafa once said ‘If, if, if, doesn’t exist.’ So, for me, ‘if I did this, if I did that,’ I’m not going to focus with that. I’m just focusing on what’s happening right now. Again, if it doesn’t happen at the US Open, I’m not going to be sad about it. I’m just goi g to keep trying. If it’s going to work, then great. If not, the. I believe that’s my destiny. That’s the beauty of it when you believe in it.”

• Following Alexander Zverev‘s 6-2, 6-2 opening-round victory against Grigor Dimitrov, in a battle of former Cincinnati Masters champions, the 16th-seeded German said he learned the value of being patient and focusing on himself:

“Always, when you’re playing against Grigor, especially in the early rounds, it’s always very dangerous. He hits the ball hard, he’s an aggressive player. You have to be [ready] all the time from start to finish. I’m happy with my result.”

• After coming from 1-4 down in the second set to beat former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, 6-3, 7-5, in a first-round match at the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday, Victoria Azarenka – herself a two-time major champion – spoke about her fighting spirit:

“I’m just a fighter. I’ll keep going until I get it right. My mentality has been like this since I was a kid. Growing up not in the greatest conditions, I had to fight for everything. … I’m grateful for those experiences.”