Jannik Sinner revealed that he needed to be “brave and intelligent” to beat Novak Djokovic in their ATP Finals encounter, while the world No. 1 lauded his opponent for being “courageous” during the match.
It was the first time in four meetings that the 22-year-old was able to get the better of Djokovic, and Sinner believes this maiden victory was down to his mental approach.
“It’s part of the process,” he said afterwards. “I feel that I’m a little bit more confident in certain moments in a match.
“I still have to learn many things. Like in the tie-break in the second set, obviously, he played better than me, but I missed a couple of first serves and these are the key moments.
“I think I was really brave and intelligent in important moments, especially the third set. I felt like we were both serving really well so there were not so many exchanges, but when the exchanges were played, we both played really well.
“That was a really high-level match.”
“It means a lot to me,” he said of beating Djokovic for the first time. “When you win against the world No. 1, who has won 24 Grand Slams, it’s obviously at the top. I felt like it was a really tactical match and I managed to win, so I’m very happy.
“It means a lot, especially here in Turin where I was really able to play great tennis. We all know how difficult it is to even just play at the same level as him, so to win here in Turin, it means a lot.”
The first key point of the match came in the 11th game when Sinner remarkably fought back from 0-40 down on Djokovic’s serve to break before calmly serving out the opening set.
The two couldn’t be separated during the second, which went the way of the 24-time Grand Slam winner following a tie-break.
In the decider, Sinner came back from 2-4 down after losing his serve to force another tie-break which he was able to win.
Djokovic refused to be disheartened by the defeat, instead choosing to heap praise on Sinner’s performance.
“The last time we played was semis in Wimbledon [earlier this year] and I won in straight sets,” said Djokovic. “But that was a very close match – a few points here and there decided every set.
“He was playing as well as he was playing today, maybe better, serving better. But I think the main difference is that, in the important points, he was going for it.
“He was more courageous and, yeah, he deserved to win because, in the important moments, I was not, I guess, aggressive enough. I was not decisive enough and I gave him the opportunity to take control over the points.
“You have to just congratulate him. He played a fantastic match. That’s what I told him at the net [at the end of the match]. I think, in the most important moments, he played his best game and he absolutely deserved to win.”
Sinner now sits top of Green Group with two wins from two and will face Holger Rune on Thursday as he looks to book a semi-final place.
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