Have you already heard about Jannik Sinner, the possible future Italian number one in men’s tennis? At 17, Sinner broke the top 100 of ATP men’s tennis in his second year on the pro circuit. The Italian recently won his second ATP tournament in Australia at the age of 19. Former Belgian tennis player and tennis expert, Filip Dewulf, and Steven Martens, a Belgian sports executive, are in agreement: Jannik Sinner could be the next number one in men’s tennis.
Jannik Sinner is originally from South-Tyrol, a German-speaking region in Northern-Italy. His parents, Johann and Sieglinde Sinner, both work in a restaurant in Val Pusteria. Tennis was not the Italian’s only passion when growing up. He was active in skiing, soccer and tennis. Sinner even managed to win a skiing national championship in his age group at only eight years old. Thanks to his father’s love for tennis and Jannik’s tennis idol Roger Federer, Sinner decided to pursue tennis professionally when he was thirteen years old. He left South-Tirol and moved to Bordighera in the Italian Riviera, where he started training under the tutelage of Italian veteran tennis coach Ricardo Piatti. Piatti is famous for having trained Serbian ATP number one Novak Djokovic early in the Serb’s career. Jannik himself has trained with Djokovic when he was younger in Monte Carlo, where the youngster currently resides.
A mixture of two tennis legends
Sinner is known to be calm and level-headed on-court, for which he has been compared to Roger Federer. Jannik is known for his very good all-court movement and balance thanks to his skiing background, which shares a lot of similarities with Djokovic’ movement. The youngster also strikes the ball with the same speed on his forehand and two-handed backhand, but his main strength is his two-handed backhand, which he hits with more topspin than any other player on the ATP Tour. A combination of two tennis legends, that surely is a recipe for a future number one, no? Only time will tell, but the expectations for the young Italian are sky high.
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Jannik Sinner with his coach Ricardo Piatti
Filip Dewulf, former Belgian tennis player and tennis expert, highly acknowledges Sinner’s progress and results on the ATP tour. Dewulf was very impressed by Sinner’s performance at the 2019 European Open in Antwerp, where the youngster defeated Belgian’s best tennis player, David Goffin, in straight sets. According to Dewulf, Jannik is a future number one, even though he’s only nineteen years old and tennis is still dominated by the ‘big three’: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Dewulf cites the Italian’s groundstrokes, his level-mindedness and work ethic as his biggest trump cards. ‘He’s very mature for his age and he’s already able to adapt to situations very quickly. His quick rise in the rankings is testament to that’, says Dewulf.
A summary of Sinner’s pro circuit career so far
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Sinner’s 2019 year in a nutshell.
Sinner started his first year on the pro tour off with a bang: in February he won his first ATP Challenger title in Bergamo, Italy. Astonishing, given he entered the tournament with no match wins at Challenger level. Consequently, Jannik became the youngest Italian to win a Challenger title in history. This tournament catapulted him to the 324th spot in the ATP rankings. A month later, the youngster entered his first ATP tournament as a lucky loser at the Hungarian Open, where he managed to win his first ATP match and the week after, he finished runner-up in his second ATP Challenger final. Due to this success, Jannik decided to play more often on the ATP Tour than the Challenger Tour in the second half of the 2019 season. His first ATP Masters victory came in Rome against fellow American pro player Steve Johnson. In July Sinner won his second ATP Challenger title in Lexington and successfully qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw at the US Open, where he lost in his debut match to Swiss tennis player Stan Wawrinka.
Sinner finished the 2019 season strong. Being given a wild card at the European Open in Antwerp, he became the youngest player in five years to reach an ATP semi-final. On his way to the semi-finals, he beat top seed and French number one tennis player Gael Monfils for his first career top 50 victory. This result helped the youngster break into the top 100 for the first time. At the end of the season, the Italian qualified for the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals thanks to a wild card. Sinner who entered the tournament as the lowest seed, beat top seed and world No. 18 Alex de Minaur in straight sets to win the title. The following week, he won a third Challenger title in Ortisei and finished the year at world No. 78, earning him the ATP Newcomer of the Year award.
The sky is the limit
Early 2020 Sinner won his first Grand Slam match at the Australian Open and he recorded his first top-10 victory against Belgian tennis player David Goffin. After the COVID-19 shutdown the Italian reached the third round at the Rome Masters and got his second top 10 victory against Greek professional Stefanos Tsitsipas. Jannik then became the youngest quarterfinalist at the French Open since Novak Djokovic in 2006. On his Rolland Garros run he beat Goffin as well as US Open runner-up German number seven in the world Alexander Zverev for his third and fourth top ten win of the year. Sinner closed out the season by winning his first ATP title at the Sofia Open. Sinner ended the year ranked 37th in ATP rankings.
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Jannik reached the quarterfinals of Rolland Garros on his debut, becoming the first player to do so, since Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal in 2005.
Sinner started his 2021 season like he ended the previous one: he won his second ATP title in Australia at the Great Ocean Road Open, This made him the youngest player to win back-to-back ATP titles since Rafael Nadal did so in 2005. The Italian’s ten-match win streak ended in the first round of the Australian Open, where he lost a five-set battle Canadian Next Gen hope Denis Shapovalov. Sinner’s reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Miami, where he lost to Polish player Hubert Hurkacz. The youngster broke the top 20 and now sits at the 17th spot in the rankings.
Steven Martens, a Belgian sports executive, also briefly commented via mail on the rapid rise of Jannik Sinner in men’s tennis. He said that Jannik is a phenomenon: cracking the top 100 in his second year on the pro circuit, winning the Next Gen ATP finals in Milan in his first appearance, already beating multiple top ten opponents and winning two ATP tournaments, make him already a formidable tennis player. Martens mentions that will not be a question of if but of when the Italian youngster will become number one. Also, noteworthy is that he’s good on all surfaces. Even though he has lost to Rafael Nadal both times they met on clay, he was able to deal well with the Spaniard’s game and were evenly matched for long periods of their matches. Rolland Garros starts on 30 May, with a possible Nadal-Sinner clash in the third round. If the Italian plays Nadal again in Paris, it will be even more closely contested, concludes Martens.