Despite his young age, Italian rising star Jannik Sinner is already being compared to the likes of greats such as Novak Djokovic.
At the age of 18, the world No.82 is the youngest player currently ranked inside the top 200 on the ATP Tour. A breakthrough he secured at the end of 2019 following his triumph at the Next Gen Finals, which he won as a wild card. Now in the full limelight of the world’s media, Sinner has a new task of trying to cope with the high expectations placed upon his shoulders.
Although it didn’t seem like he was experiencing any difficulty during his opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday. Participating in the main draw of a grand slam for only the second time in his career, Sinner eased to a 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 6-4 win over Australia’s Max Purcell in a rain-interrupted match. Despite the delay, the youngster proved too good for his opponent as he broke five times in total and won 68% of his service points.
“He hits such a nice ball and he’s mentally so stable on the court,” Purcell told the Australian Associated Press.
“It motivated me to take my tennis a little bit more seriously.
“Not that I wasn’t, but there are a few one per centers where I could get more on top of.
“He showed you that one week here or one week there can really change how your year goes.
“He is flying and the sky’s the limit for him.
“I said to my manager at Wimbledon last year when (Sinner) was outside 200, I had a bet that he’d finish the year inside the top 75 and he finished up 78, so I thought I called that pretty well.”
The rapid rise of Sinner has caught the attention of the big guns. This time last year he was ranked outside the top 500 with no professional titles of any sort to his name. However, since then, he has triumphed in two Futures and Three Challenger events. As well as the Next Gen Finals. An impressive performance for somebody who during their junior years was also a top level skier in Italy.
Trying to pinpoint what it is about Sinner that has got everybody talking, Federer believes his movement on the court is a huge asset. The Swiss Maestro has hit with him in both Rome and Monaco.
“He has great footwork for a big guy, because we forget how tall he is,” Federer said on Monday.
“He can play like most of the best movers in the game right now, he can also play open stance and closed stance, which I think is a huge advantage for movement for the future.”
19-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal is another top figure to predict a bright future for Sinner following a training session they had. The Spaniard was 17 when broke into the world’s top 100 and 19 when he won his first grand slam. Sinner is the youngest player to be in the ATP year-end top 80 since Nadal back in 2003.
“I practiced with him the other day. He has a good character on court. He’s positive.” Said Nadal.
“I see him having a great tennis career. He has everything to achieve a great tennis career. The only thing that he needs to do, in my opinion, is having the right people around and work.”
Others to praise Sinner include John McEnroe, who has hailed him as one of the best talents he has seen over the past decade on the men’s tour.
Whilst he is the right path to the top, there are also warnings about placing too much pressure on Sinner. For the youngster, he has vowed to take it all in his stride and gradually improve his tennis. He currently coached by Ricardo Piatti.
“I just try to play week after week better. That’s my goal.” Sinner stated on Tuesday in his press conference.
“And then after, obviously if I play better, the ranking will be better, for sure.’
“But I’m not thinking so much about the ranking. We are just trying to make match after match good, trying to play better, and then we will see. I don’t want to rush this.”
Sinner will play Marton Fucsovics in the second round.