Sinner Back In Halle: ” I Felt That They Believed In Me!”

Jannik Sinner (photo: Terra Wortmann Open)


Jannik Sinner was nothing more than a promising teenage tennis player when Ralf Weber gave him a wildcard for the qualifying of the ATP 500 grass-court event in Halle five years ago. Although Sinner lost in the first round to Portugal’s Joao Sousa, the tournament director’s gesture at the TERRA WORTMANN OPEN had a lasting impact.

“I felt that they believed in me, even when I wasn’t at the top yet. That’s why I feel very comfortable here and enjoy playing here so much,” said Sinner on Saturday at his press conference at the OWL ARENA. Now at the age of 22, Sinner is at the pinnacle of his career, traveling the tour as the first Italian to be the World No. 1 in tennis history. He now competes in his first tournament as the ATP leader, facing Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor (ATP 23) in the opening round in Halle.

“We are proud that Jannik has come this far and now appears as the World No. 1 in our tournament,” said tournament chief Weber, referring to the current Australian Open champion. “This timing is indeed a wonderful stroke of luck.”

The 31st edition of the TERRA WORTMANN OPEN promises great tennis with many top 10 players. Not only with Sinner, now chased by all his colleagues, or Daniil Medvedev (ATP 5), Andrey Rublev (ATP 7), and Hubert Hurkacz (ATP 8), but also and especially with Alexander Zverev, the French Open finalist. “I’m playing a solid, good season,” the 27-year-old Hamburg native stated at his press conference on Saturday, expressing his excitement about returning to the grass courts in Halle. “At a home tournament, with the great atmosphere here, you are especially motivated.”

World No. 4 Zverev took a breather after the grueling Grand Slam adventure in Paris, relaxed, and found ideal training conditions for the grass-court season in Westphalia. “The transition is always difficult, especially with my height. But I like this challenge.” Roland Garros is no longer in the back of his mind: “I have learned to put things behind me and get back to work.” Zverev’s first-round opponent at the 31st TERRA WORTMANN OPEN will be determined in the qualifiers.

Sinner also recharged his batteries at home in the village of Innichen in the Pustertal. Sinner returns to his hometown two or three times a year between his tour commitments, and this visit coincided with his ascent to the top of the ATP rankings. “These were very nice moments in a familiar environment, and spending time with many kids from my village was great,” said Sinner. “Tennis doesn’t play a big role there. It’s just nice to meet up again.”

In a quiet moment at home, Sinner did ask himself, “How did I manage to get from here to the very top?” One of the answers he gave himself: “Hard training, always giving 100 percent. Not just for one or two weeks, but consistently.” Regarding his first-round match against Griekspoor, Sinner said: “It’s always difficult to play the first matches on grass, especially against someone who has already played a tournament.” Griekspoor reached the semi-finals at the ATP Tour event in ‘s-Hertogenbosch this week.

Zverev was also thrilled about the German national football team’s start at the European Championships and planned to improve his golf game alongside his tennis performances: “Here, I have the best opportunity to work on my game.” He also set a goal for the 2024 tennis season, with an eye on rival Sinner: “Becoming number one is possible. A few less bitter defeats recently, and it could have already happened.”