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The Rise of Italian Prodigy Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner Australian Open

With his win at the 2024 Australian Open, Jannik Sinner vaulted himself into tennis history. And at just 22 years old, he has the potential to rule this sport for years. Let’s look back on how he got here, and what comes next.

Early Life:

Most tennis players have had their hands on a racquet since birth.

But for Jannik Sinner, he had his hands on a different kind of cylinder–ski poles.

A champion skier from the ages of 8-12, Sinner had his sights on the slopes, and still enjoys a run down the mountain during the off-season.

Sinner was born on August 16, 2001 in Northern Italy. Sinner’s mother tongue is German, as he was raised in the German speaking region of South Tyrol. Growing up, Jannik was involved in multiple sports: skiing, football, and tennis.

By the time he turned 13, Sinner began to invest more time into tennis, and moved to the Italian Riviera to train under veteran Riccardo Piatti. Sinner’s decision came at a preference of opportunity and to ultimately grow from making mistakes during match play.

Despite the lack of junior results, Sinner began to make an imprint as a professional, winning multiple ATP Challenger Tour titles and receiving wild cards for various events.


With no match wins at the Challenger level, Sinner entered and won his first Challenger title in Bergamo. At the age of 17, this win also made him the youngest Italian to win a Challenger title–in history.

During the second half of the 2019 season, Sinner broke into the Top 200 after winning his second ATP title in Umag. At the European Open, Sinner not only broke into the ATP Top 100–he also got his first Top 50 win (against Gael Monfils) and became the youngest player in five years to make a semi-final.

At the NextGen Finals, the Italian was the lowest seed. But he would become the dark horse of the tournament, upsetting Alex de Minaur to clinch the title. His performance throughout the 2019 season named him the Newcomer of the Year.

This wouldn’t be the end of the young Italian’s breakthrough.

After an abrupt stop to the Tour in 2020, 2021 marked an illustrious success for Sinner–four titles, a Masters 1000 final, and a Top 10 debut.

The maiden Masters 1000 final came at the Miami Open, where he ended up as the runner-up at the tournament against Hubert Hurkacz.

The same year he also became the youngest ATP 500 champion by clinching the Citi Open title, and also became the first player born in the 2000s in the Top 10 on Tour after appearing at the semifinals at the Vienna Open.

He would end the year reaching the ATP Finals and lifting the Davis Cup for Italy for the first time in 47 years.

Rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz:

Sinner actually did not qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, but entered as an alternate.

After a first-round defeat at Rolex Paris Masters to Spanish player, Carlos Alcaraz, it faltered Sinner’s chances to qualify into the main draw.

The two are synonymous and known for their eye-catching duels, pulling the crowd to the edge of their seats with every matchup.

Sinner’s first clay court title came after edging Carlos Alcaraz at the Croatia Open, following a win against the Spaniard at Wimbledon that year to make the quarterfinals.

“I don’t know in the future what’s going to happen, but I think it’s just great for tennis to also have some new names, new players,” Sinner said after the match.

Alcaraz would triumph against Sinner in the 2022 US Open quarterfinals–exacting revenge from the grass court Slam in London en route to his maiden Grand Slam title in New York.

“I had some tough losses for sure,” Sinner said post-match. “This one is at the top of the list.”

The next year, Alcaraz defeated Sinner in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open. Alcaraz would go on to win the title in the final against Daniil Medvedev.

Sinner would exact his own revenge, claiming victory over Alcaraz in the 2023 Miami semifinal round to mark his first victory blocking the chances of a Sunshine Double for the then-19-year-old.

Later that year, the two would meet once more for the final time that season at the China Open, where Sinner beat Alcaraz in straight sets for the first time.

At the 2024 BNP Paribas Open, the two would meet once more in the semifinal. After the course of three sets, the odds would fall in Alcaraz’s favor.

This sets their current head-to-head record at four wins apiece.

2024 Australian Open – Maiden Grand Slam Title:

It would take a defeat over a well-known legend to reach the final destination.

In the 2024 Australian Open semifinals, Sinner triumphed over ten-time winner Novak Djokovic to advance to a final matchup against Daniil Medvedev. Sinner would be the youngest player since Djokovic in 2008 to make the final.

Djokovic opened up about Sinner’s dominance in a post-match conference.

“He’s deservedly in the finals. He outplayed me completely,” Djokovic said.

It would be a breakthrough from two sets down that set the stage for the Italian to capture his maiden Grand Slam title Down Under against Medvedev.

In a battle inching over three hours, fatigue and rising levels began to fill each rally between the two players. In the 10th game, Sinner broke to force a deciding set as the stadium erupted in cheers as the young Italian captures match point.

In the post-match interview, Sinner praised Medvedev’s efforts.

“I just tried to stay positive, trying to stick to the game plan, which I had to adjust a little bit. Daniil is an incredible player and showed also again he is an incredible fighter.”

The title also marked another milestone for the 22-year-old, as he is the second Italian man in history to win a Grand Slam title. The last time an Italian man won a Grand Slam title was in 1976 with Adriano Panatta–almost 48 years ago!

After the end of the match, Medvedev said this would not be the last of Sinner’s appearances in Grand Slam finals.

“Probably that’s not your last Grand Slam, but I hope I can try to get the next one if we play in a final.” he said.

Roland Garros: The Present

As we head into the first week of Roland Garros action, Jannik Sinner made an appearance, surprising 14-time champion Rafael Nadal during training following rumors of his absence at the French tournament after withdrawal in Madrid.

His best result at the tournament was a quarterfinal result back in 2020 four years ago.

The ultimate test will come to beat this record with the world No. 2’s tally of a 28-2 win-loss record so far this season.

Main Photo Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports


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