Copy of 2023-11-12T143248Z_1049063275_UP1EJBC14EMCC_RTRMADP_3_TENNIS-ATPFINALS-1699805029886
Italy's Jannik Sinner in action during his group stage match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Finals in Pala Alpitour, on Sunday. Image Credit: Reuters

Turin: If Jannik Sinner was feeling any pressure as the crowd’s overwhelming favourite at the ATP Finals, the Italian certainly didn’t show it during a 6-4, 6-4 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening match at the season-ending event for the year’s top eight players.

Supported by chants of “Vai Jannik” (“Go Jannik”) and signs that read “Facci Sognare” (“Let us dream”), Sinner gave the Italian fans just what they came for Sunday with his blistering baseline shots and strong serve.

The 22-year-old Sinner is finishing up a year in which he has claimed four titles including his first Masters 1000 trophy and is up to a career-high No. 4 in the rankings — the first Italian that high since Adriano Panatta nearly a half-century ago.

Sinner even showed off some of his newfound touch when he produced a backhand topspin lob winner while on the run early in the second set.

Then on his first match point, Sinner spun an ace out wide on the deuce court to finish the match off in a brisk 1 hour, 25 minutes.

Fans support

Sinner was supported by five fans dressed as carrots and many more wearing orange-coloured wigs to recognise his red-orange hair and how he used to eat carrots during changeovers.

It was Sinner’s tour-leading 14th win indoors this year — against just one loss.

“The match went really, really well and the crowd support was crazy,” Sinner said on court as fans chanted his name. “It’s not just about improvement, it’s about destinations and the destination I wanted to reach this year was to be here.”

Tsitsipas, the 2019 champion, had cut short a practice session on Friday due to an apparent arm issue.

Djokovic to play Rune

Later in the green group, Novak Djokovic was to revive his budding rivalry with Holger Rune needing only one more match win to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record-extending eighth time.

Matches in the red group on Monday feature Carlos Alcaraz vs. Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev vs. Andrey Rublev.

The top two finishers in each group advance to the semi-finals.