Jannik Sinner hasn’t lost a step since his Australian Open victory. A couple of days after the 22-year-old’s return from Melbourne, where he claimed his maiden Grand Slam title, Sinner hit the gym.
“I was trying not to lose the physical shape I had from the tournament,” he told select international media from Rotterdam, where he’s playing his first ATP Tour event of the year.
“In Italy, there has been a lot of attention, it is nice to share this moment with all the people who supported me,” Sinner said of his time in Rome. “But for me and my team, (the win) doesn’t change anything. We know we have to work hard to improve. We have to get better (to achieve) the next goals.”
The world No. 4 is yet to see his parents – Johann and Siglinde – who he lauded in his victory speech as ‘perfect’. His father, a chef at a ski lodge in Sexten, Italy, where his mother also waitressed, let their son fly free without the burden of expectation.
Sinner, whose career earnings stand at $19,149,209, is one of tennis’ most marketable players and has iconic brand endorsements. There’s an order to all things Sinner, save his messy crown.
“There are three Grand Slams left to play this year, where I would like to do better than last year,” he said when asked about his next goals, including being No. 1. “Obviously in Wimbledon, where I made the semis, it is not easy to make a better result. There is Roland Garros (second round) and USO (roundof-16). And before No. 1 there are two other positions – No.3 and No 2. I will take it step by step.”
When Sinner, who considers his game most like Novak Djokovic‘s, left the icy slopes of Sexten, Italy – where he was already a champion skier, and traded his ski boots for tennis shoes – he saw opportunity. Especially in the mental approach.
“The mentality in skiing is completely different from tennis,” he said. “I was sometimes a little bit scared, especially when I went downhill, because if you make a mistake something could happen. In tennis, nothing can happen, you just lose the point or the match. Nothing really, really dangerous can happen.”
The standout factor of Sinner’s rise in the last four months, where he has beaten the world No. 1 Serb thrice in four meetings, is his remarkable mental balance.
“When I was six or seven, I used to get a little bit angry,” Sinner said. “So, I tried to be as calm as possible. If I control my head and brain in a certain way, I feel safe. I have days where I’m a little bit angry because I am tired. In the last year, I have taken this extra step, to understand everything a little bit better. At the end of the day, the brain is the only thing I can control, the rest, sometimes you cannot control.”
One of the most moving scenes from Sinner’s charge to the title Down Under, where he rallied from two-sets-to-love down in the final, was his coach Darren Cahill, calling out to the Italian midway through the third set, ‘show me what you’ve got’. Sinner glanced briefly at his box – where beside Cahill was the expressive Italian Simone Vagnozzi – before getting back to business.
“I have a really great group of people around me. They’re really kind people, who I can trust,” Sinner said.
The thought Cahill shared with Sinner early in their two-year-and-counting association – the only thing a player has after his career is the company he keeps during his career – has become a measure of things for the young Italian.
“When you win you have momentum and it is positive and if you lose it’s negative,” Sinner said, “But if you have really great company throughout your career, it is nice. Maybe after the career you can call and talk about this because it will stay with you.”
Cahill, a former pro, an astute reader of the game and the people in and round it, was perhaps summing up Sinner’s corner. The foundation of his results.