LUGANO/STARNBERG, March 28, 2021
Swiss teenager Dominic Stephan Stricker capped his dream run on home soil by winning his maiden title on the ATP Challenger Tour. The 18-year-old defeated Ukrainian qualifier Vitaliy Sachko 6-4, 6-2 in Sunday’s singles final of the €44,820 Challenger Citta di Lugano held on the indoor hard courts of the Padiglione Conza.
Stricker, who appeared in his only second Challenger tournament and dropped two sets en-route to the championship match, was in total control of the encounter. The wild card entry didn’t face a break point and capitalized on three of his own 11 break-point chances to prevail after one hour and 10 minutes.
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“I was a bit nervous at the beginning but it it became better the longer the match lasted and I am happy to win it in the end,” Stricker told Tennis TourTalk during a virtual press conference afterwards. “I served well and I really felt good from the baseline. I played solid without many mistakes. He (Sachko) struggled a bit and I was able to capitalize on it.
“I would have never thought that I could win the title. I hoped to win one or two matches. This title means a lot to me and it will be a week that I will never forget. Winning on home soil in Lugano is just awesome. We are all very proud but we will continue to work hard in order to take a second title as soon as possible.”
Stricker, who enjoys playing golf in his leisure time and supports Swiss football club Young Boys Bern, pocketed €6,190 in prize money as well as 80 ATP Ranking points in Lugano. He is projected to crack the Top 500 when the new ATP Rankings will be released.
“It’s great to climb up the rankings so fast. I am just happy to collect as many points as possible. The idea was to break into the Top 500 by the end of the season but I think we will now have to adjust our goals,” the teenager said with a smile.
Transition from juniors’ level to the Pro Circuit
Stricker clinched the boys’ title at Roland Garros last year to become the first Swiss junior to win in Paris since his famous compatriot Stan Wawrinka in 2003. A few hours after his triumph, the lefty also won the boys’ doubles trophy with his Italian partner Flavio Cobolli.
Asked about the difference between the competition at juniors’ and seniors’ level, Stricker responded: “There are no easy matches anymore. Every match is tough and the mental aspect becomes more important.”
The upcoming week, Stricker will play another Pro-Circuit tournament in Switzerland, competing in the ITF World Tennis Tour M25 event in Biel. Then, the Münsingen native will stay a week at home relaxing before he will start into the European clay-court season.