Sinner has the poise, belief and dedication to win more Grand Slams, and soon
The Italian is already talking about trying to improve, even as the size of his achievement begins to sink in
Perhaps the most telling moment in Jannik Sinner’s press conference after winning his first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Sunday was when the Italian mentioned that he needs to improve.
Considering what he had just achieved, it was a surprising moment. Usually first-time slam winners are revelling in the joy of their maiden victory, thinking about celebrating rather than what they need to do better in the future.
But Sinner is a calm, thoughtful, intelligent person, and even as the magnitude of his achievement was sinking in, he found time to think about what he needs to do to stay at this level.
“I still have to process it, because beating Novak (Djokovic) in the semis and then today Daniil in the final, they are tough players to beat,” he said. “So it’s a great moment for me and my team, but in the other way, we also know that we have to improve if we want to have another chance to hold a big trophy again. This is all the process and the hard work occasionally will always pay off.”
Sinner’s coaches, Darren Cahill and Simone Vagnozzi, echoed Sinner’s words.
“We believe in Jannik, we always have,” Cahill said. “He’s a special young kid. Even the way he hits the ball, it just sounds special. When you hit the ball the way he does, when you want to improve the way he does, when you move the way he does, he’s going to have success at some point.
“As I said a couple of days ago, our job as coaches is to try to fast-track that as quickly as possible and get him to where he wants to go quickly so he can have a long window at the top of the game. He’s been doing well. He’s absorbing everything and trying new things on the court, and he just wants to get better. I’m sure after this sinks in he won’t settle. He’ll never settle. He wants to get better.”
It’ would be interesting to know what Sinner would have thought, had he not manage to turn things around against Medvedev. In some ways, he may well have taken it in his stride, considering it another step forward in his journey toward the top.
But winning in his first slam final appearance takes the pressure off, lets him relax, if he can, for the tasks ahead. Suddenly he will be seen by the rest of the Tour as an even bigger danger than before, a talent turned into a champion.
And crucially, what he showed against Medvedev is that even when he is in trouble in a match, a final, he has the clarity of thought to turn it around. While there’s no question that Medvedev was beginning to run on empty – he played more than 24 hours of tennis this fortnight – Sinner still had the calmness not to panic, to tweak his gameplan, get the job done. He played his best when he needed to, when the pressure of the occasion was at its greatest.
“There is always pressure, but the pressure is something good,” he said. “You have to take it in a good way. It’s a privilege, no? So yes, I like to dance in the pressure storm. Me personally, I like it, because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis. I’m also quite relaxed in this occasion, because I always try to enjoy on the court. So I think pressure is a privilege, to be honest.”
Everything is right in Sinner’s world
Sinner will find time to celebrate with his team but it’s clear he’s already thinking ahead. Good on clay, he reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last summer and having won here, the US Open will also offer him an opportunity to go again for glory. He’s not only ready to improve, he thinks it’s imperative.
“I’m extremely happy that I am in this position now,” he said. “I have a great team behind me who knows what I have to do. With Darren, he has a lot of experience. He has been through this already a number of times. With Simone, we were talking already after the match that we can improve still.
“It’s all part of the process. Obviously having this trophy, it’s an amazing feeling. I feel grateful to have this here. But I know that I have to work even harder, because the opponents, they will find the way to beat me and I have to be prepared. Let’s see what’s coming in the future.”
Sinner already has a good rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz, one of the first players to congratulate him on social media, and the Italian is one of the few players who seems able to handle the Spaniard when he’s on his game. He’s now won the past four matches with Medvedev and he’s beaten Djokovic three times in their last four clashes, including here.
Everything looks to be right in Sinner’s world, which means it’s everyone else’s turn to try to catch up. Because the way he’s talking, he wants to move his game up another level or two, and that’s a scary proposition for everyone.