19-year-old Jannik Sinner won his first ATP trophy last week at Sofia, where he defeated Canada's Vasek Pospisil in the summit clash. But a surprising coincidence has now emerged between Sinner's maiden title and that of his idol, Roger Federer.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner had clinched his first ATP title in Milan 19 years ago. Incidentally, even Roger Federer was 19 years old when he beat French player Julien Boutter to win the 2001 Milan Indoors.
But that is not the only similarity in the two breakthrough runs. Another surprising parallel is that Dubai Duty Free (DDF) was the sanction holder of both the tournaments.
The Sofia Open was pushed back to the 45th week of the tour this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was Brandplus, who represent DDF, that worked with the Bulgarian Tennis Federation to conduct the ATP 250 event in the Balkan nation.
UAE-based siblings Kay and Sagari Godkhindi played a significant role in organizing the Sofia Open as per the ATP Performance Standards.
"We worked overtime to ensure that everything was in order all the time, and with the help and assistance of the ATP, we can be proud of a truly world-class tournament in Sofia that will always bring the memory of at least two great champions — Federer and Sinner every time someone speaks of this event," Sofia Open 2020 Chief Media Officer (CMO) Sagari Godkhindi said.
Goran Djokovic, the uncle of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, was the director of the ATP 250 event. Approximately 3,000 fans attended the tournament over the course of the week, which many hailed as a commendable achievement during these testing times.
Looking back at Roger Federer's first career title
Jannik Sinner played some fantastic tennis in the indoor conditions at Sofia. He breezed past Marton Fucsovics and Marc-Andrea Huesler in the first two rounds, and although Alex de Minaur tested him in the quarterfinals, Sinner eventually won 6-7, 6-4, 6-1.
The World No. 37 then made short work of fifth seed Adrian Mannarino in the semifinals, before outlasting Pospisil in a deciding set tiebreaker.
Sinner has said in the past that Roger Federer is his idol, and he would no doubt be pleased to know of the Dubai connection between their maiden titles.
The 2001 Milan indoor event, whose sanction holders were also DDF, had Roger Federer playing as the seventh seed. The Swiss had to work hard in the initial rounds, before he set up a title clash with the unseeded Boutter.
Roger Federer won the first set 6-4, but the Frenchman bounced back with a 7-6 win in the next set. The 20-time Slam champion then hit the reset button, regaining his composure to clinch the deciding set 6-4.
One can only wonder if this seemingly serendipitous series of events is a sign of things to come for Jannik Sinner.Published 19 Nov 2020, 18:47 IST