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Can Sinner transform hard-court form onto clay?


Jannik Sinner has been the man to beat on the ATP Tour this season. The Italian has clinched a Tour-leading three titles in 2024, highlighted by his maiden major crown at the Australian Open and the ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Miami.

But how does the 22-year-old feel about transitioning to clay? Sinner is set to compete on the surface for the first time this year at this week’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

“It is going to be very interesting to see how players deal with the situation to go from hard to clay. It is important to practise in a certain way. The first week is very tough, you usually have strange results. It is going to be interesting to see,” Sinner said in his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday. “The hard-court swing was really, really good for me, now we see what I can do on clay. Last year I played well here and then after I didn’t play well, so let’s see.

“It is going to be tough as it is a surface I struggle a little bit. But I am very excited to come back and hopefully do better.”

Sinner, who is 22-1 on the season, has won 13 tour-level titles but has only triumphed on clay once: Umag 2022. Last year, the No. 2 player in the PIF ATP Rankings went 8-3 on the surface, with his best result on clay a semi-final showing in Monte-Carlo.

“It is not the surface where I feel that comfortable. I feel more comfortable on hard courts,” Sinner said. “It does not mean I am not a good player on clay. I played my first Grand Slam quarter-finals on clay at Roland Garros. I made the quarters in Rome. Last year was not my best season on clay, hopefully I can change it this year.

“I am confident I can be a good player on clay. It takes time. I used to practise a lot on clay from 14 to 20, but after most of the tournaments go to hard courts, so you play a little bit less. I am very excited to be here. If you have a good friendship with the clay it can help.”

Sinner will play Sebastian Korda or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match in the Principality. The second seed is making his fourth appearance in Monte-Carlo, where he holds a 7-3 record.

“I really like this tournament,” Sinner said. “I live here, so I always come here to practise. Seeing the site in a different way is very special. The crowd is usually very good, lots of Italians. It is going to be an amazing tournament. I love to play here. My expectations are not that high for the beginning of clay. I am happy to be here, it is a special tournament, so hopefully I can perform well.”

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