Filip Cristian Jianu, Coca Cola to be reborn

Second Challenger final for Filip Cristian Jianu: after being dominated in the second set, in the third he recovered… drinking Coca Cola. “It’s tough if you come from Romania: here it’s a disaster, but I take inspiration from Simona Halep. She showed that you can become strong even without a system behind you”

Obviously it’s not the reason why Filip Cristian Jianu won the semi-final against Enrico Dalla Valle, but the curiosity – if not suggestion – remains great. The last time a player was seen drinking Coca Cola during a match dates back to the 1980s, when John McEnroe downed a lot of it between one outburst and another. After losing the second set to zero, the Romanian had a couple of cans of Coca Cola brought to him and drank them greedily at the changes of court . “It’s not the first time I’ve done it – he says – today it was very hot, at a certain point I had no strength left, I was almost dizzy. Coca Cola makes me feel better when I’m low on energy. I know it’s not the healthiest drink ever, but when you play in these conditions it can help. And it actually reinvigorated me .  After almost three hours of battle, the Romanian prevented Dalla Valle from reaching his first Challenger final in his career, prevailing with a score of 6-3 0-6 7-5. It was played under the scorching sun, and both needed the assistance of physiotherapists: the Italian due to a muscle problem in his left thigh, the Romanian due to a general sense of malaise. In a third set full of tears, Dalla Valle can perhaps complain about two wasted break points at 1-1, when he found himself at 15-40 and committed a couple of errors “I had to shoot it from here, I shot it from there” he complained at the changeover . In the next game it was Jianu who ran away from him and he proudly resisted, complete with a matchpoint canceled at 4-5. But in the end the Romanian won. “ I think in the end whoever was braver won – says Jianu – we were both very nervous, I became nervous when he canceled my matchpoint with a great forehand. He who was more mentally stable won, without thinking too much about the score, about the fact that it was a semi-final, such an important match. I did it, while in the last game, in fact, he missed some easy balls ”. For Jianu it is the second Challenger final in his career (he played the first in Oeiras in 2023). More generally, he is a bit late after being world number 5 among juniors.


When we ask him why there are so many difficulties in transitioning to the professional ranks, his response is almost an outburst. “It’s tough in Romania. It’s not like in Italy, Spain, France… we don’t have tournaments, money, sponsors and it’s difficult to start the business because no wild cards arrive. When a player like me comes out of his junior career, he usually receives many invitations to the Challengers and sometimes to the ATPs. Just win a few games and the ranking rises quickly. For me it wasn’t like that, I had to start from $15,000 ITF tournaments, week after week. I won a lot, but it’s not easy to get out because they offer very few points. And then it’s difficult to travel with the coach because I don’t have much money. When I arrived in the Challengers for the first time, I was scared: everyone had a coach and a very professional conduct, while I was alone. And my level wasn’t enough because in ITF tournaments I found less strong players and I trained in bad conditions. Challenger players also have a much heavier ball. In short, I was rejected and found myself back in the ITF. But this time I knew what to do, in fact I still won a lot. Now I’m back in the Challengers and I’m a better player, I have more confidence and I finally feel like I can compete with anyone . ” The model, of course, is called Simona Halep, capable of becoming world number 1. “I know her well, in Romania there are few tennis players and we all know each other. She is a model because she did everything on her own, in the absence of a system. We have no coaches, physiotherapists, structures… it’s a disaster. She has an incredible talent and is very intelligent because she knew how to exploit it in the best way. She opened the path, she made Romanians understand that you can do it on your own, as long as you fight, you are serious, professional and patient. It’s not impossible to do it . ” With the final in Milan you are already certain of obtaining your best ranking, as you will enter the ATP top-250 for the first time. But she obviously wants to try to win. “ It won’t be easy to recover quickly after such a tough match, but I’ve already started the routine. After the match I did a lot of exercise cycling, then shower and massage, finally I plan to sleep a lot, at least 9-10 hours. Without forgetting correct hydration. Nothing special, it’s simply about doing the right things .” For those coming from Romania, it is probably even easier to be disciplined. Also because – as the very blond Jianu said – Simona Halep paved the way. The final day’s program will start at 12pm with the doubles final, after which there will be the title match at 2pm, with live TV on SuperTennis (digital terrestrial channel 64).In addition to the 75 ATP points up for grabs and a prize money of 10,200 euros, Gomez will also play to give Argentina the record of the most successful country in the tournament. In history, in fact, Italy, Spain and the Albiceleste are paired with four successes. In case of victory, this small record will go to Argentina. For his part, Jianu will try to be the first Romanian to put his name in the roll of honor.