Winning a Grand Slam is one of the hardest things to do in any sport let alone in the heat of Australia. Tennis is unlike any other sport, when a major tournament begins there is not a full week of rest between matches like in the NFL and College Football. In fact, all tennis players only have a mere one or two days off before hitting the court again in major tournaments. This cannot be taken lightly, many men’s matches take up to 4 hours of intense play with very little stoppage which takes a toll on the body. In order for players to make it through the tournament, the mind and body must be right.
“There is no way around hard work. Embrace it. You have to put in the hours because there’s always something which you can improve.” -- Roger Federer
Legends of the sport like the aforementioned Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal are slowly losing their grip on the tennis throne. Sunday morning was evidence of this, 22 year old Jannik Sinner from Italy won his first Grand Slam title in his career at the Australian Open. Sinner grew up in Northern Italy and was involved in skiing and football alongside tennis as a boy. By the age of 13, Sinner turned his sole focus to tennis because he liked the competitive aspect of going one on one against another player. He began playing and competing in professional tournaments at the tender age of 16.
Sinner has endured many tough losses in his young career, but many believe the path to his first grand slam was coming because of the maturity and demeanor that he brings in life and on the court. He has been compared by many to Novak Djokovic in the way he carries himself. Sinner won the ATP Newcomer of the Year award in 2019 and things only went up from there. In 2020, he went to his first major quarterfinal at the French Open and his first ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open. By 2023, Sinner was beginning to establish a name for himself and a reputation as one of the most exciting youngsters in the tennis community. He led Italy to a Davis Cup title and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon giving hope to fans across the world that he was ready to win his first major title. A year later Sinner did exactly that on one of the biggest stages in tennis at the Australian Open, only dropping only three sets in the entire tournament.
However, no one was expecting the gangly redhead to win against a more experienced player even with the hype he had started to produce. In a back and forth match against Daniil Medvedev from Russia, Sinner dropped the first two sets and was on the brink of defeat. In this moment his mindset kicked in.
“Me personally, I like [pressure], because that’s where most of the time I bring out my best tennis. I’m also quite relaxed in this occasion, because I always try to enjoy on the court. I think pressure is a privilege, to be honest.” -- Jannik Sinner
In the third set, Medvedev began to tire and Sinner used his elite athleticism and endurance to his advantage. After regaining momentum, he won the final three sets 6-4, 6-4, and 6-3. While it all comes down to the players execution, Sinner was eager to note out that he couldn't have gotten this far without his new coaching staff, which included Darren Cahill, who has coached many greats and is a former player himself. Cahill also works as an analyst for ESPN and covers many of the grand slams illustrating the large tennis background he brings which is a boost to Sinner’s game. Immediately following the final rally that won him the Australian Open, Sinner collapsed in exhaustion to soak in the crowd and the beauty of winning his first major title.