ATP Tour Player Focus: Jannik Sinner
HAILING from northern Italy, 20-year-old Jannik Sinner has experienced a sharp rise up the rankings since breaking into the top 50 just 12 months ago. Currently sitting at a career-high 14, Sinner’s form this year has been nothing short of impressive with three title wins to his name and an additional final loss proving how capable he is of continuing his development and form.
A former champion skier, Sinner switched to tennis as a 13-year-old and has never looked back. Despite not necessarily finding a wealth of success on the junior circuit, Sinner took to the professional ITF circuit like a duck to water at age 16 and ramped up his success with multiple Challenger titles to his name as a 17-year-old and broke into the Top 100 in 2019. He won the 2019 ATP Newcomer of the Year award for his remarkable rise – starting the year at 553 and finishing 78th in the world – and has rarely taken a step back since then. While Sinner is not Italy’s top-ranked men’s player – that honour is currently held by Matteo Berrettini – he is next best in the nation. Perhaps more remarkably, he is the youngest player within the current top 35 and has also played the most matches of anyone within the top 20, showcasing not only his winning form but also his continued workrate and desire for improvement.
This year to-date, Sinner has racked up a 37-17 win record on the Tour – 27 hard court wins, 10 on clay and zero grass – and lost just one of his four finals in an impressive season for the former Next-Gen ATP Finals winner. ATP 250 titles in Melbourne and Sofia – the latter just last week – have showcased his excellent hard court craft, while he has developed nicely at higher levels, too, claiming the ATP 500 Washington title in August and making it to the Masters 1000 Miami final before falling to Hubert Hurkacz in a hard-fought clash. A calm and composed type, Sinner’s run in Miami proved that it does not take much for him to step up to the next level, looking more than comfortable up against any number of opposition.
Sinner’s court craft is hard to stop when he gets going, able to outlast players with his service game winning rate – a solid 80 per cent for the year across all surfaces and up to 83 per cent on hard court – and most intriguingly he still shows areas for improvement with little Tour level grass court experience and potential for further development on the clay. Factor in that he also has only registered one win over top 10 opposition in 2021 – defeating Andrey Rublev in Barcelona in April – and it is almost scary how much greater Sinner could become with further court time against high quality opposition. That 2021 win rate gets slightly better looking at his form against top 20 opposition (7-14 compared to 1-7) but regardless, with greater exposure to the current top echelon of players, he can only grow from here with composure well beyond his years already.
Picture credit: TENNIS PHOTO NETWORK