ROME (AP) — Jannik Sinner and Riccardo Piatti seemed destined to achieve tennis greatness together.
Sinner, the red-haired ball-striking phenomenon from the German-speaking region of northern Italy, had moved to Piatti's academy on the Italian Riviera at the age of 13 and made a meteoric rise into the top 10 of the rankings.
Piatti, the veteran coach who had previously worked with the likes of Ivan Ljubicic, Richard Gasquet and Novak Djokovic, appeared like he would finally guide one of his pupils to a Grand Slam title.
Sinner won four titles last year, made
the final of the Miami Open and reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 shortly after his 20th birthday.
Then, suddenly, in February — shortly after a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals —
Sinner dropped his mentor and hired the relatively inexperienced Simone Vagnozzi as his new coach.
"Jannik wants to reach No. 1 and he wants a lot more tools,"
Filippo Volandri, Italy's Davis Cup captain, told The Associated Press on Sunday as the Italian Open got underway. "He wants different tools from the ones he's had his entire life.
"He saw that he wasn't winning against the best in the world and he understood that to take that next step he needs to add something to his game."
Like many in Italian tennis, Volandri was surprised by the move.
"Yes, for the timing of it," Volandri said.
Sinner has not really explained the reasons for the split.