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How Sinner's first ATP event foretold his rise to stardom

pa href=''Jannik Sinner/a today climbed to No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings, becoming the first Italian to achieve the feat. It is a historic moment for the 22-year-old, who is just the 29th player since the rankingsrsquo; inception in 1973 to climb to World No. 1./p pJust more than five years ago, Sinner competed in an ATP Tour event for the first time. Looking back at that one event, the ATP 250 in Budapest, it was clear the Italian had a bright future./p pIt all began when tournament director Attila Richter received a phone call from the Italian Tennis and Padel Federation and Sinner's team. They told him about the Italianrsquo;s talent and asked if the tournament would consider giving him a wild card./p pOrganisers had already allocated their three main draw wild cards mdash; one for top seed a href=''Marin Cilic/a and two for Hungarians mdash; so they decided to give the 17-year-old a chance with a qualifying wild card./p pldquo;This young guy comes over super polite, super nice, very calm and quiet,rdquo; Richter recalled. ldquo;Plays incredible tennis, wins in the qualies first round, I'm not even sure who he beat but I remember it was a surprise.rdquo;/p pstronga rel="noopener noreferrer" href="" target="_blank"Read's Number Ones Series/a/strong/p pSinner had advanced past a href=''Lukas Rosol/a, known for his 2012 a href=''Wimbledon/a upset of a href=''Rafael Nadal/a. Two weeks after losing in the second round of an ATP Challenger Tour event, the Italian was a win away from successfully qualifying for his maiden tour-level main draw. /p pThose hopes were squashed when German a href=''Yannick Maden/a defeated him 6-3, 6-4./p pldquo;I just remember that I played a somewhat straightforward match, a bit more stable than him, but he was already playing pretty fast and somewhat consistent,rdquo; Maden recalled. ldquo;But it didn't bother me that day too much. But it was so close. And I remember also my coach said afterwards that the guy hits the ball really clean.rdquo;/p [ATP APP] pIt was apparent to Maden, who reached a career-high No. 96 in the PIF ATP Rankings, that Sinner hit with a high average pace and consistently took the ball early. But it was not just the Italianrsquo;s physical tools that caught his attention./p pldquo;I remember even after beating him, the next day in the morning, I think I had off and we went off site somewhere to practise,rdquo; Maden recalled. ldquo;I saw him hitting again. So [a] really good, diligent worker, always a really nice guy, even after he really shot up in the rankings.rdquo;/p pFour players withdrew from the main draw due to injury or illness, so all four players who lost in the final round of qualifying were slotted into the field. Sinner took the place of a href=''Dusan Lajovic/a, who withdrew due to an elbow injury. The teen faced wild card a href=''Mate Valkusz/a, a former junior World No. 1./p pldquo;They played a pretty incredible first-round match with balls basically shooting from their racquets like a bullet,rdquo; Richter said. ldquo;Jannik wins in the end, so he not only gets his first wild card into a Tour event, but also wins his first Tour match in Budapest in 2019.rdquo;/p pnbsp;/p div style="position: relative; display: block; max-width: 100%;" div style="padding-top: 56.25%;" iframe src="" allow="encrypted-media" style="position: absolute; top: 0px; right: 0px; bottom: 0px; left: 0px; width: 100%; height: 100%;"/iframe /div /div pThe rising star triumphed 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 for his first ATP Tour main draw win. Then World No. 314, he would lose in the second round to World No. 33 a href=''Laslo Djere/a 6-3, 6-2. But his actions off court were even more memorable./p pRichter had to leave just before the end of the match for an official meeting in the city. About an hour after departing site, he received a call from the playersrsquo; desk asking when he would return./p pldquo;I said, lsquo;Listen, I've got no idearsquo;. I had to go to the ministry, I had a couple of other things going on. I said, lsquo;Maybe one, two hours. Why?rsquo; /p pldquo;There's a young guy here waiting for you.rdquo; /p pldquo;I'm like, lsquo;Okay, who is it?rsquo; They said it's Jannik. lsquo;Okay, what does he want? Is there an issue?rsquo;rdquo; /p pldquo;No, no issue at all.rdquo;/p pldquo;He just wanted to talk to me. I'm like, lsquo;Okay. I can either talk to him over the phone or if he needs me in person, then I'll probably be back in an hourrsquo;.rdquo; /p pRichter wondered what could be so important that Sinner wanted to meet him in person. Approximately one hour later upon his return to the venue, the tournament director went straight to the playersrsquo; desk to ask if the teen was still there. /p pldquo;Jannik was sitting in the players' lounge already with all his luggage and everything around him in one of the boxes, so I go up to him and say, lsquo;Hi, here I am, is there an issue?rsquo; He stands up and says no issue at all. He just wanted to thank me for the wild card,rdquo; Richter said. ldquo;That sort of already then gave me the impression not only seeing him playing tennis, but also it gives you that feeling that you have with Jannik also today mdash; what a really, really nice, nice guy he is, how good he was raised and his manners. So he actually sat there for an hour and a half, waiting for the tournament director.rdquo;/p pA couple of years after the tournament, Richter was at a href=''Roland Garros/a with his son. They were in the lobby of their hotel when he noticed Sinner sitting by himself. The Italian remembered the tournament director and they enjoyed a quick conversation. ldquo;He said for him, it was and still is important to remember where he came from,rdquo; Richter recalled./p pldquo;I remember then thinking to myself, lsquo;Well, if he becomes a good player, he'll be a superstarrsquo;, because it's just the personality that he has,rdquo; he added. ldquo;I always had that memory and I always told a lot of other players since, mainly juniors and up-and-coming players the story about what a difference it makes if you're not only a good player in terms of playing tennis but also a good person and always being humble and respectful to where you came from.rdquo;/p p[NEWSLETTER FORM]/p


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