Jannik Sinner has been labelled as a potential future top player and Grand Slam winner for quite some time now. And at this year's French Open, the Italian showed that he is taking steps in the right direction.
Sinner reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros on debut with a string of impressive wins. Although he was beaten in straight sets by 12-time champion Rafael Nadal, Sinner put up a worthy display that showed why many believe he is the next big thing in men's tennis.
“Sinner is a talented youngster. He plays with a lot of power, delivering great shots. It was a challenging battle for two sets, especially in the closing stages of the first, when I got lucky to pull that break back at 5-6. The conditions were a bit difficult because he was hitting every ball very hard. It was demanding for me to hit the way I wanted, as you can’t get too much spin with these balls during cold weather. It wasn’t easy to move Jannik away from the comfort zone."
Nicola Pietrangeli backs Jannik Sinner to beat Rafael Nadal in a rematch at Roland Garros next year
While there have been a lot of expectations and hype around the teenager, former Italian legend Nicola Pietrangeli has gone one step further. Pietrangeli has predicted that Sinner will beat 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal if the two meet at Roland Garros again next year.
"Next year, in my opinion, the match we saw yesterday at Roland Garros between Sinner and Rafael Nadal will have the opposite result. It will be Jannik who will beat Rafael. In my opinion, he is among the top 10 players in the world," Pietrangeli said, as reported by Adnkronos. "Djokovic, Nadal and Federer are in another category, but besides that, he can play with everyone. He has perfect behavior, it is clear that he will have to learn, above all to win and to be ready for important challenges."
The current generation of tennis fans may not be very familiar with Nicola Pietrangeli, who is considered by many to be among the greatest Italian tennis players in history.
Pietrangeli won the French Championships in 1959 and 1960 and also reached the finals in 1961 and 1964. He even won the men's doubles and mixed doubles title once each at the French Championships.
For those in India, the 87-year-old might be best known thanks to Leander Paes breaking his record of most Davis Cup doubles wins in 2018.
Sinner himself knows he has a long way to go and that he has to back up his potential with victories on the court.
"I’m a person who looks not in the future and not in the past, always in the present. At the end you have to show everything. I didn't win anything until now… It's just [about keeping my] head down and trying to improve, trying to play hour after hour on court, which I need to do," Sinner said.
The outcome remains to be seen but one thing is certain; Jannik Sinner, like Rafael Nadal, seems to have the right attitude and work ethic.Published 07 Oct 2020, 19:52 IST