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“I have my own path and my own way to go” – Jannik Sinner is a big part of tennis in the present, but his focus remains on the future
Jannik Sinner has a blueprint for success, and every match – win or lose – brings him closer to what he wants to be as a player.
For Jannik Sinner, the big question isn’t who he is right now, but rather, who he will become.
Already blessed with some of the most jaw-dropping racquet head acceleration and athletic prowess on the ATP Tour, the soft-spoken Italian is one of the most lethal players of the ATP’s generation next, and one of the few that matches up favorably with world-beating Carlos Alcaraz.
But he insists that he’s very much a work in progress, and eager to continue his ascent while avoiding getting too absorbed in his current ranking or results.
That’s not easy when the media wants to judge you by your last match or, in some cases, your next one.
“Even today I felt like that the chances are there, so that’s the good thing and the positive thing. Then we see in the future. But every player has this one or two players where you don’t feel that comfortable with. He’s for sure one of mine.”— Jannik Sinner
On Sunday Sinner lost for the sixth consecutive time against Daniil Medvedev, but still sees the experience aas another step in his development, rather than a discouraging defeat.
“I think also today we learned a lot for the next match,” he told reporters. “[Daniil] Is for me one of the toughest opponents, for sure. The head-to-head says it. Let’s see in the next match.”
“IT’S ALWAYS GOING TO BE A TOUGH CHALLENGE”
The 0-6 lifetime record doesn’t lie, but the Italian is embracing the challenge and feels like he is making progress against Medvedev, despite what the scoreboard repeatedly says.
“Against Daniil I never won. It’s always going to be a tough, tough challenge for me to play against him, for sure. But I don’t know. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer,” he said.
“Even today I felt like that the chances are there, so that’s the good thing and the positive thing. Then we see in the future. But every player has this one or two players where you don’t feel that comfortable with. He’s for sure one of mine. I mean, he’s also one of the best players in the world, no?
“But still, for sure I have to improve to beat him, like all the other players they try to improve, and then we see in the future how it goes, but it’s gonna be a good challenge for me, a challenge what I am always looking forward to play against him.”
Sinner on Alcaraz – “I feel he makes me a better player”
For proof of Sinner’s evolution, look no further than his semi-final triumph over Carlos Alcaraz in Miami.
Sinner said he would be happy to take another crack at the man who defeated him 7-6(4), 6-3 in the semi-finals at Indian Wells, and he delivered his biggest career win, 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2.
“I said to my team after Indian Wells I would love to play against Carlos,” he said, adding: “Talking about last match, and if we play here, I would be happy to play against him again because I look forward for these kind of matches. As I said there, I feel like he makes me a better player.”
As always with Sinner, his excitement is tempered by realism. He considers himself a work in progress, and considers matches to be learning experiences. No matter what happens, Sinner doesn’t get over excited – he stays on an even keel as he continues to work on improving his game, step by step.
“Let’s see what’s coming here, no?” he said, when asked about Alcaraz. “I’m just looking forward for these kind of matches, no? And then we see the outcome, and if it’s good, it’s good. If not, we see what we have to improve again.”
Focused on growth
Sinner has been working on all elements of his game with his team, led by coaches Simone Vagnozzi and Darren Cahill. He has a vision of a bullet proof version of himself, a blueprint for how to get there, and the energy to do the work to arrive at his destination.
Think he’s an amazing talent in 2023? Just wait until next year, or the year after that.
“I just stay focused about myself, no?” Sinner told reporters on Wednesday. “I have my own path. I have my own way to go. I know that I can still improve many things, and that’s a positive I can see because I still can improve, and I can play already good level now. So let’s see.”
The serve could be the key
If there was a hard criticism on Sinner’s game in 2022, it was the serve. Not so much in 2023, as he’s already shown big development in that area.
“I think we have improved a lot the serve,” he said. “I still have days where I struggle a little bit more. I have days where I serve very well. But still, there is a lot of work to do. We tried to find the right motion, the right toss and the right tempo, no, to serve every ball in the same motion, no, and then changing the ball a little bit.
“There is a lot of work to do still, but considering last year and this year, I feel like [I have] a different serve.”
Sinner – I can already play with every player
Sinner may be a work in progress, but he’s also ready to win now, and he’s proven that in 2023, amassing a 21-5 record, a title in Montpellier, a final in Rotterdam and a total of three top 5 wins.
It’s an impressive set of numbers, but Sinner is buoyed by the feeling that he can – and will – be so much better. During his press conference he reeled off a laundry list of improvements he is in the process of making…
“For sure I feel like that I can serve much better,” he said. “Physically I can get stronger. Also my forehand and backhand also. I mean, trying to go more to the net, and I just try to try it also out in matches, no?”
The Italian says that one of his challenges is to add some risk to his game on the match court, something he can already do quite well on the practice court.
“Because in practice sessions, I am doing already much more from this, but still, I have to do it also in matches,” he said. “Sometimes even to risk a little bit, no? And then slowly, slowly, getting a little bit more natural and normal, and then we see in the next years.
“But for sure, knowing that already I am where I am right now, knowing that I can play good tennis, and if I play good tennis I can play with every player, no?”