Will turn 22 on:

  • 8/16/2023

What he’s done since last summer:

  • First Masters 1000 final (2021 Miami Open)
  • First Grand Slam quarterfinal (2020 Roland Garros)
  • Currently the youngest man ranked inside the Top 50

Key stat:

  • Through May 2021, Sinner is 59-12 against players ranked lower than him


Royal metaphors are frequently bandied about in sport, but there’s something about Jannik Sinner that’s straight-up princely. Born on the Italian-Austrian border, the 6’2” Sinner sports flaming red hair evocative of a young Charlemagne, and the 19-year-old stands to inherit a similarly expansive empire should he continue his rise.

The Italian works with famed coach Riccardo Piatti—who has worked with the likes of Novak Djokovic, Ivan Ljubicic, and Richard Gasquet—ended the pandemic-impacted 2020 season with a first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros, shocking No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev ahead of a noble defeat to eventual champion Rafael Nadal. Equally effective on hard courts, he nearly conquered his first Masters 1000 title, bowing out to good friend Hubert Hurkacz.

“The road to have this big name is long, you know,” he said after his semifinal victory over Roberto Bautista Agut. “It's not done in one week of tournament. Is a long process to come there, to become there.”

There refers to the list of other teenagers to make it that far in Miami, an illustrious bunch that includes Djokovic, Nadal and Andre Agassi. Not bad for a former skier who only started serious tennis training at 14.

In fact, that desire to make up for lost time helped crystallize his calm on-court demeanor.

“When I went to Riccardo Piatti, I only played tennis two times a week. When I came there, I practiced every day, morning and afternoon. For me, that was very tough in the beginning, so that what helped me is just working hard every day and to trying not to lose energy on court because the day is already tough enough. If you lose extra energy without any sense, it's even tougher.”

;With two ATP titles already to his name—not to mention a win at the 2019 Next Gen Finals—very little has been tough about his transformation from possible talent to probable champion. His next step towards tennis royalty will likely require a usurpation—that is, a win over one the long-reigning kings in Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer.

His first duel with Djokovic came in Monte Carlo, and the teenager was upbeat despite the defeat—admirably confident in the crusades to come.

“The focus is always about improving. That's what I'm doing. That's what I'm trying to do, trying to learn from this match today as well, even if sometimes it's tough to accept…I have the good team. I have the right people behind me who knows what you have to do. I hope I play once more against Novak.”

His next opportunity saw him play an intense first set with Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of Roland Garros, only to bow out in three. How might Sinner learn from these defeats going forward?