ATP Finals Day 1 Preview: All Eyes on Home Favorite Jannik Sinner

An enthralling week awaits the fans at Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium, where the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles will battle for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals crown, setting off on Sunday on Italian soil.

A packed schedule will see home favorite Jannik Sinner setting off his campaign at the Nitto ATP Final on Sunday afternoon in Turin when he takes on sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The much-anticipated opening singles round-robin match in Green Group will mark the fourth seed’s second appearance at the event, the first by direct qualifying – he played as an alternate in 2021, replacing injured Matteo Berrettini.

Speaking to ATP Media on Friday, the Italian asserted: “[I’m] happy that this event is here in Turin. Hopefully, it’s something positive for me trying to have a great connection with the crowd and hopefully, I can handle it and handle the situation with the right mentality because I feel I have a little bit more pressure, which is a very positive sign for me.”

The 22-year-old heads into the year-end championships off the back of a breathtaking season, earning four titles in the process, which included his first Masters 1000 title in Toronto last August.

As a result of a consistent year, the player mentored by Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill reached a new career high at World No. 4 early in October after an impressive run in Beijing, which led the San Candido native to win the China Open by edging World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev on his debut at the ATP 500 tournament.

Little did he know by then that only a few weeks later, he would play a championship match against the Moscow native again and for the fourth time this year.

Moreover, he repeated the feat at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria, clinching his fourth title of the season, his second against Medvedev, and 10th overall.

Earlier in 2023, the on-court rivals met in Rotterdam and Miami, and on both occasions, the sixth seed emerged victorious over the young gun.

Furthermore, before Rotterdam, Sinner emerged victorious at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier, beating American Maxime Cressy in the final.

On Sunday, the home hope will square off Greek player Tsitsipas, who leads the Italian 5-2 in their series.

They faced one another two times through the season, first at the Australian Open when the 25-year-old from Athens overpowered Sinner in a five-set thriller to go the distance before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the final.

From there, the World No. 6 struggled to find his best tennis, a year marked by a lack of consistency.

By mid-April, he seemed to have found his rhythm on the clay courts in Barcelona but fell short to top seed Carlos Alcaraz, who retained the title on home soil.

The run of form on red clay continued in Madrid, progressing to the last eight.

In Rome, he lost in the semis to in-form Jan-Lennard Struff, who finished a runner-up at the Masters 1000 last May.

At the French Open, Tsitsipas, who in 2021 advanced to the finals in Roland Garros, was halted by Alcaraz in the quarterfinals, although his luck changed in Mexico, claiming his lone title in 2023 in Los Cabos.

Ahead of making his fifth appearance at the Finals, the two-time Monte-Carlo Masters champion delivered some of his best performances this season, surging to three consecutive semifinals (Antwerp, Vienna, Paris-Bercy).

However, on Saturday, and for the second day in a row, his practice session stopped halfway, with reports suggesting issues regarding his back.

Nonetheless, there has been no official comment regarding the player’s fitness. Pole Hubert Hurkacz is the first alternate.

Talking about the showpiece held in Turin, the 2019 champion said: “I would consider it probably a bigger thing than a Slam, honestly.”

A Grand Slam, you get to play even if you are No. 200 in the World, but not many people can say that they’ve played the Nitto ATP Finals, so to me, it has significant importance. And it carries a lot of legacy and history with it. To be playing in such an event, very few people can brag about.”

The evening session will bring action to a close with the clash between defending champion Djokovic and Dane Holger Rune.

Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek will open the day session in doubles against Argentine duo Andres Molteni and Maximo Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, the night session will kick start with Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin facing the pairing form by Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

The Nitto ATP Finals run from November 12-19 at the Pala Alpitour stadium.

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