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Italian Jannik Sinner sits close to his trophy during a press conference after his victory at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Rome: Jannik Sinner said Wednesday that winning the Australian Open has not changed him and he now has ambitions to be No 1 in the world.

“I’m the same boy I was before I won the title,” he insisted on his return to Rome.

“Feeling the warmth of the people, their enthusiasm, that pleases me, but I’m the same ‘ragazzo’ (lad) I was a fortnight ago,” said the first Italian to win the Australian Open at a press conference at the headquarters of the Italian Tennis Federation.

His dramatic win over Daniil Medvedev on Sunday, which saw him come back from two sets down to win in five, sparked a wave of ‘Sinnermania’ in Italy but the 22-year-old is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

“I’m taking this popularity in my stride,” he said.

“I’m happy to share all these emotions but it was only one tournament, and it’s possible that my results won’t be as good” in the future, smiled the man who ended a 48-year Grand Slam drought for Italian men’s tennis.

First Italian since 1976

He is the first Italian man to win a major since Adriano Panatta — the only man to beat Bjorn Borg on the red clay of Roland Garros — beat Harold Solomon in the final of the 1976 French Open.

Since arriving in Rome from Melbourne on Tuesday, Sinner has met with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. He will be received by President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday with the Italian team that won the 2023 Davis Cup.

The demands on his time mean that the world No 4 has withdrawn from next week’s Marseille tournament although he has passed on an invitation to the prestigious Sanremo Italian Song Festival in early February.

“After my stay here, Australia’s over, we’ll have to look ahead and get back to training,” he said.

“The aim (of this season) was to get slightly better results in the Grand Slams than last year when I reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

“The first Grand Slam of the year (Australia) went well but there are still three more, so the season doesn’t end here.

“My dream has always been to win a Grand Slam. Now I know what it means and the emotions it brings. I can’t wait to get back to work and try to feel that again.”

Big difference

Having beaten Novak Djokovic in Melbourne as well as Medvedev, Sinner now has his sights set on becoming the best player in the world, although he recognises that may take some time yet.

“To be No 1 in the world? There’s a big difference between being in the top five and being in the top three,” he said.

“It’s the same between being top three and world No 1. You have to take things one step at a time.

“I’m aware that I still need to improve my physical condition, my strength and my endurance.

“In terms of tennis, I can do everything a little better, particularly on my serve. There’s still work to be done.”

Sinner is expected to return to the court in Rotterdam in mid-February, with eyes already set on the year’s second major at Roland Garros.