Beaten in five sets in the last three Grand Slams, Sinner continues to learn: “I feel like I’m getting closer to the best”

Jannik Sinner is in the semi-finals of the Montpellier tournament. Despite frustrating outings in recent Grand Slams, the Italian is only taking away the positives

Jannik Sinner at the ATP Open Sud de France in Montpellier Jannik Sinner at the ATP Open Sud de France in Montpellier Image Credit: JB Autissier / Panoramic

At the age of just 21, Jannik Sinner has already won five titles in the ATP 250 category and one in the ATP 500 category. The Italian also reached the final of the Miami Masters 1000 in 2021 and has advanced to the quarter-finals of all four Grand Slams. But the current world No 17 has been struggling to take the next step in the most prestigious tournaments in the world.

While he may not have reached the semi-finals, his defeats in the quarter-finals at the Grand Slams in 2022 were agonizingly close five-set affairs. The Italian fell in five sets to Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, while leading two-sets-to-love, and was also eliminated in five sets by Carlos Alcaraz at the US Open, after having a match point. In the round of 16 at the 2023 Australian Open, Sinner experienced the same misfortune, going down to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

Asked during one of his press conferences at this week’s Open Sud de France in Montpellier, where he is through to the semi-finals, about his margin of progress in Grand Slam and these tough losses, Sinner explained that he retains only the positive. These matches will help him grow, he thinks.

“I lost to Djokovic, Alcaraz and Tsitsipas in five sets, so it proves that the level is there, right? I can play very good tennis, that’s for sure. Maybe I lack a little more experience at times in those games. But I feel like I’m getting closer to the best and that’s the most important thing. And then little by little, I’m going to try to catch up with them, because I feel like I’m not that far away,” he said.

Sinner wants to qualify for the ATP Finals

After a year 2022 a little disrupted by knee and hip injuries, Jannik Sinner left the Top 10 at the end of September until dropping to 17th ATP ranking, his lowest ranking since August 2021. For 2023, Sinner’s main goal is to regain his place among the best players in the world, and to participate in the ATP Finals for the first time in his career as a starter (he played two matches in 2021, as a substitute for Stefanos Tsitsipas, editor’s note).

“Of course I want to win titles, that’s what we play for. But as I said at the beginning of the year, my main goal is to be in Turin at the end of the season. The important thing is also to be physically ready and stay healthy. We will work hard with my team and then we will see where it takes us,” added Sinner.

When asked about the pressure that could come from his country, which awaits the successor of Adriano Panatta, the last Italian male to win a Grand Slam (in 1976), Sinner explained that he had no weight on his shoulders besides his own expectations.

“The biggest pressure is what I put on myself, not the people talking around me. I also want to show myself and prove to myself that maybe I’m even a better player than I think. So I take every game with the right mentality, with the right spirit, and then we’ll take stock at the end of my career. But I’m still very young, I have time.”

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