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.”