Many experts as well as players, including the likes of Ivan Lendl, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, have anointed Jannik Sinner as the next big thing in men's tennis. The latest to heap rich words of praise on the young Italian is the former coach and uncle of Rafael Nadal - Toni Nadal.
In a recent interview, Toni claimed that Sinner is talented enough to dominate the men's tour in the future. He also mentioned a couple of others - Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev - as the players who will likely fight with Sinner for the World No. 1 ranking.
"Jannik is a candidate to become World No. 1 together with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Daniil Medvedev," Toni Nadal said. "Sinner has everything to become one of the best players of the next generation."
Sinner announced himself on the big stage this year by beating David Goffin and Alexander Zverev on his way to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros. It was his first-ever appearance in Paris, but the only man who could stop him was eventual champion and King of Clay Rafael Nadal himself.
Toni highlighted Sinner's Roland Garros run as an example of the high level that he has already started playing at, despite being just 19.
"Against Zverev, Sinner was on top the whole match in Paris. Zverev did not play at a very high level, but Sinner is a very good player," Toni added.
I am sure that I will never train a player as great as Rafael Nadal in the future: Uncle Toni
The breakthrough run at Roland Garros is not the only similarity that Jannik Sinner shares with Rafael Nadal. Like the World No. 2, the Italian also won his first ATP tournament as a teenager - at Sofia earlier this month. Rafael Nadal's maiden triumph had come at Sopot in 2004, when he was 18.
Toni, who was his nephew's coach from the beginning of his career up until 2016, claimed that it was Nadal's ability to constantly learn and adapt that helped him fulfil his potential.
"I have always said that in life there is a special talent: the ability of learning. Hard work makes a player world number 1," Toni said. "What mattered was that Rafael fulfilled his potential. I would have never thought that he could win 20 Grand Slam titles."
"I am sure that I will no longer train such a great player like Rafa in the future, but I believe I can give something to the new generation of players I am training now," the Spaniard added.Published 20 Nov 2020, 17:21 IST