Jannik Sinner is crowned King of Melbourne

As of: January 29, 2024 9:08 a.m

In the final of the Australian Open, Jannik Sinner fights his way back into a match he thought he had lost. It is the preliminary culmination of a longer process.

By Andreas Thies, Melbourne

It was an inconspicuous moment on a memorable evening. The right fist stretched out at chin height, a look at the box, the very calm walk to the bench. Jannik Sinner was not featured in the first 75 minutes of this Australian Open final, but was clearly the second best player.

The contrast to the relieved applause of the audience, which at that moment sounded as if the 15,000 people present were simply happy not to have to witness another abrasion, and the apparently completely calm Sinner, was astonishing. Sinner, who came into his first Grand Slam final against the much more experienced Daniil Medvedev as favorite after his semi-final win against Novak Djokovic, had no chance until 3:6, 1:5.

His mantra: “Process before results”

Well, after his first break of the match and the short fist, Sinner had finally arrived. He showed why his repeated attitude of “process over results” is so justified. Stay calm, focus on the task and it will work out in the end.

Even in the press conference well after 1 a.m., the word process was mentioned again and again. Sinner mentioned his first title on the ATP Challenger Tour, the second division of tennis, in Bergamo, as well as his first ATP title in Sofia 2020. When did he feel ready to win a Grand Slam? “That was last year. I started well, played semifinals and finals in Indian Wells and Miami. Then the semifinals in Wimbledon.”

Change from Piatti to Cahill

Sinner’s process also includes the fact that he unexpectedly separated from his long-time coach Riccardo Piatti at the beginning of 2022. He joined his academy at the age of 14, and for eight years Piatti was not only a coach, but also a paternal caregiver. Many could not imagine Sinner without Piatti, perhaps the best Italian coach in history with the country’s greatest talent. The story was too beautiful. Sinner moved on, he wanted to grow.

First he hired Simone Vagnozzi, and later he brought Darren Cahill into the team. The ex-professional enjoys an almost cult-like reputation in tennis because he always makes his protégés better and only accepts long-term commitments with professionals in whom he really believes. Cahill played a major role in the careers of Andre Agassi and Simona Halep. After the final, Cahill raved about the Sinners game with shining eyes: “It’s something special. The ball makes a different sound when it comes out of Jannik’s racket.”

Won eight out of ten matches against top 5 players

Nevertheless, Cahill didn’t immediately go to the top either. For a long time, Sinner had a hard time competing with the big players in the business. The game wasn’t variable enough and the serve wasn’t yet world-class. Sinner worked on both and in the final against Medvedev he was the better player in all respects.

Since last summer, after this triumph, Sinner has won eight of his last ten matches against top 5 players. Probably also because he sees every match as an opportunity to learn. With the trophy in his hand, Sinner recalled in his victory speech that he had already played in other major finals against final opponent Daniil Medvedev. At the beginning of his career he even lost six times in a row against the clever tactician Medvedev. “We’ve played so many finals and I’ve learned something every time,” Sinner stated.

In the footsteps of Federer and Djokovic

The most emotional greeting from Sinner, who moved through this award ceremony in such a quiet manner, as he had done in all situations before this great triumph, went to his parents: “Thank you to everyone watching from home, especially my family. I wish everyone has a family like mine. I tried different sports, but they never put pressure on me and I wish this freedom for every child.”

Sinner is the best example of how the multi-sport approach can create great champions. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic had already found their way to the top in this way. Sinner made it clear in the press conference on Sunday that he intended to stay here. “I’m extremely happy to be in this position now. I have a great team around me that knows what to do.”

The inconspicuous one still has a lot to do.