And on this point, the 19-year-old Italian—making his Roland Garros debut—hit a remarkable, around-the-net-post winner:
This time next year, Jannik Sinner will probably be seeded at the majors. But until then, he will remain a dangerous floater, an unlucky first-round opponent for players who did well enough to earn one of the draw’s 32 seeds. Other than maybe Vasek Pospisil, it’s tough to think of a tougher unseeded player than the 19-year-old Italian—who earned his first career Top 10 win earlier this year in Rotterdam over his first-round opponent in Paris, David Goffin.
This is Sinner's first Roland Garros main draw, but don’t expect any stage fright; fearlessness is one of his greatest attributes. No matter the stage or opponent, Sinner will bring the heavy lumber and strike powerful winners from both wings. Indoors in Rotterdam, Goffin was unable to handle the pace, but the heavier balls in Paris combined with a slow red-clay court should give the Belgian some much needed time to work the point. (Editor's note: because of rain in Paris, their first-round match is being played indoors.)
One has to think Goffin would rather play Sinner on clay than indoors, but judging by his recent 6-2, 6-2, loss to Marin Cilic in Rome, there’s no way to know for sure. It’s safe to expect plenty of breaks in this match, as both players inflict heavy damage with their returns. Goffin should do well to give Sinner as few second serves as possible, to avoid this from happening repeatedly:
There aren’t many players who own a backhand to backhand advantage over the Belgian, but Sinner is one of them:
There are plenty of reasons to pick Goffin to win this match. His fitness is superior, as is his best-of-five set experience. Sinner cramped up in his five-set loss to Karen Khachanov at the US Open, which you can be sure Goffin is well aware of.
But at the end of the day, Sinner is just a special talent. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him shank a ball. A wise tennis man once said, “you can’t teach sick timing,” and Sinner has it in spades on both his forehand and backhand. In terms of pure ball-striking, it doesn’t get any better than this first-round clash. Enjoy.
The Pick: Jannik Sinner