Since this week, Monaco-based Jannik Sinner is the new leader of the ATP rankings. The 22-year-old Italian received a special trophy at the Monte-Carlo Country Club on Monday, June 10, which was presented to him by Andrea Gaudenzi, the president of the ATP Tour. In the evening, Sinner travelled from Larvotto to Sesto Pusteria in Südtirol, where he was honoured by his fellow villagers. The 29th number 1 (since the existence of the ATP ranking in 1973) is above all the first Italian to receive this distinction.

A new period begins in the career of Sinner, who failed to win his second Grand Slam tournament last week. The Italian watched Carlos Alcaraz, who had eliminated him in the semifinals, win Roland Garros on a television on Sunday. “Of course I would have loved to be there myself, but I did watch the match. It’s a good lesson for me. I know there’s still a lot of room for improvement in my game. That’s also part of sport,” he said in an interview with the daily La Repubblica.

Despite that setback, Sinner is now the number 1 in the world and mostly owes that newfound status to winning the Australian Open. He has only lost three matches in 2024 and that says a lot about his rise, which has actually started with winning the Davis Cup with the Italian side in Malaga. “It’s very special to be No.1 now. As a child, it’s something you dream of, but it’s not something you really take seriously into account. To reach that point, you have to take it one step at a time. I remember when I earned my first points which put me in the ATP rankings and after that there are milestones that you must pass. Then you set yourself the goal of getting into the top 100 and then you want to go higher and higher and suddenly you are in the top 10. Even then, you have to move up step by step. I think that’s the only way to become No.1,” Sinner explained in La Repubblica.

“It’s not an end in itself, because life goes on. Also that of a sportsman. I’m going to Halle for my next tournament and then we have to see how I will perform at Wimbledon. For me, the Olympic tournament is also important, especially now that it is taking place in Paris. The fact that I’m now number 1 doesn’t change much. The goal is to maintain this status for as long as possible and that can only be achieved with good results.”

For the time being, he remains number 1 because Alcaraz, his main opponent, must defend his title (and therefore a maximum number of points) at Wimbledon. The pressure on Sinner will increase now that he is officially the best in the world. “There was always a lot of pressure on me, I had to learn to deal with that. That’s why I surround myself with people who are honest with me and whom I can trust. I am now on top of a mountain top, but on the horizon, I only see higher peaks. I’m not there yet. I’m already looking forward to the next game. Above all, I am someone who loves to play tennis and wants to get the best out of his game.”

Sinner also says in the interview with the Italian newspaper that he was inspired by his compatriots Alberto Tomba and Valentino Rossi. “They have made it to the top in other sports, but they were certainly an example for me. Especially since they made sure that their sports became very popular due to their successes. And that is also a goal of an athlete. It would be nice if many children in Italy now play tennis because they can mirror themselves to compatriots. Italian tennis is suddenly on the rise and our sport should benefit from that. Of all the tennis players in the past, Roger Federer has been a great inspiration to me. I grew up with him and always watched his matches also because of his style, on and off the court.”

Sinner let slip after the victory at the Australian Open that he mainly finds his rest in Monaco. There he can still walk ‘unobserved’ on the street to the Country Club to train there. He feels at home by the sea, after settling down in Bordighera as a teenager at Riccardo Piatti’s tennis academy. In Italy, he is nowadays the most popular top athlete and that is also why it is nice for Sinner to sometimes recover from his efforts in Monaco.