The heat is on Jannik Sinner ahead of Davis Cup showdown with Novak Djokovic

Jannik Sinner at the 2023 ATP Finals

Jannik Sinner will be the player under pressure in his crucial singles clash with Novak Djokovic in the Davis Cup semi-final between Italy and Serbia.

Serbia leads Italy 1-0 in the second singles match on Saturday after Miomir Kecmanovic fought back from a set down to overcome Lorenzo Musetti 6-7(7) 6-2 6-1 in Malaga.

Kecmanovic appeared to be in top form, and his on-court demeanour was mirrored in no-nonsense tennis from the start.

“I played my best tennis when it mattered the most,” said Kecmanovic.

“Hopefully we can get through to Sunday. It was an extremely tough [first] set. I thought that we both played really well.”

While Sinner will be feeling the heat with Italy down in the tie, Djokovic will have to deal with the expectations that he is always the favourite.

The world No 1 insists that the pressure to perform that his reputation imparts motivates him to perform.

“It motivates me. Pressure motivates me. It really forces me to go into my lockdown mode, in a way, to focus and get the best out of me, you know, in the Davis Cup weeks. Playing for my country, it’s probably, I guess, multiplied even more that kind of feeling of motivation.”

In a similar vein, Sinner believes that the pressure of playing for your country is refreshing for tennis professionals who so often turn out only for themselves.

“I think pressure is a privilege to have. There are not so many players who has this privilege. Davis Cup pressure is different, because you know that you have big responsibility to show, because you don’t have many chances.”

Italy has not reached the competition’s final since 1998, when three of the squad members were born. Serbia is hoping to break a 10-year streak of not appearing in the final. The last time they were in contention for the championship, Czechia defeated them 3-2 in Belgrade.

The winning team will also be guaranteed a spot in the 2024 Davis Cup Finals Group Stage.

When he plays against Italian No 1 Sinner, Djokovic will have the opportunity to secure Serbia’s first Davis Cup final since 2013.

The two players clashed twice at the ATP Finals last week and split the spoils. If the first singles match was any indication, we might be in for a treat when two of the best players in the world clash for the first time in Davis Cup competition.

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