Jannik Sinner made the first professional steps in 2018 and became the youngster to watch in no time. The Italian diamond has passed over 500 rivals on the ATP ranking list in just over two years, achieving three Challenger titles, two ATP trophies, the ATP Next Gen Finals, a Major quarter-final, the Masters 1000 final and the top-20, all as a teenager! Recognized for his dedication and talent, Jannik has already had a chance to practice with the world’s leading players, including Rafel Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Nadal brought Sinner with him to Adelaide at the beginning of this season, practicing together and preparing for the Australian Open.
For Mats Wilander, Jannik could be one of the title favorites at Roland Garros, with the Swede praising the Italian and his abilities. Jannik debuted at Roland Garros last October, beating four rivals and reaching the quarter-final before losing to Nadal in straight sets. A teenager pushed the king of clay to the limits in the opening two sets before falling 7-6 6-4, 6-1 after almost three hours. Nadal and Sinner battled again a few weeks ago in Rome, with the youngster opening a lead in both sets in a 7-5, 6-4 loss after over two hours. Rafa had to deliver three breaks in the opener to avoid the setback, and he came back from 4-2 down in set number two to leave Jannik behind and advance into the third round.
“I actually think Jannik Sinner can win it. The weird thing is I don’t believe Musetti can, but they’re from the same country. I feel there is a chance because Novak and Rafa are more vulnerable every year, not in terms of losing necessarily but because the younger guys are hitting the ball so hard, most of them on both sides. They have big serves, and I think they are taking a bit of Rafa’s and Novak’s confidence away from them, leaving Roger, Rafa and Novak with the only ammunition left, which is the experience of playing five sets.
There’s a chance that some of them will confront Nadal in the opening round and take the confidence away from him, especially if Rafa has to play a couple of challenging encounters in a row. I think that’s Nadal’s considerable strength; to play well in the opening matches and build confidence for the latter stages from the quarter-final. Rafa had to save a match point in both Barcelona and Rome. How he did that? Because he is Rafael Nadal! Still, the youngsters know they can beat him, and that can open the door for someone like Jannik Sinner. The chances are not big; they weren’t either when I won my first Roland Garros in 1982,” Mats Wilander said.