Sinner can be next tennis superstar, says coach Cahill

Darren Walton |

Winning the Australian Open was the perfect way for Italy’s Jannik Sinner to kick off the year.
Winning the Australian Open was the perfect way for Italy’s Jannik Sinner to kick off the year.

Jannik Sinner insists the only way is up after super-coach Darren Cahill declared the Italian prodigy ready to fill the void as the new tennis global superstar in the post-big-three era.

Sinner’s stirring Australian Open final comeback win over Daniil Medvedev may not quite have signalled the changing of the guard, but it most certainly marked the arrival of Generation Next after almost two decades of dominance from the “big three” of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

None of the three tennis titans featured in the Melbourne Park title match for the first time since Marat Safin broke Lleyton Hewitt’s heart in the centenary Open final in 2005.

Djokovic remains top of the rankings after sweeping to three of the four majors last year, denied the first calendar-year grand slam sweep since Rod Laver’s fabled 1969 feat only by Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz in an epic five-set Wimbledon climax. 

But Sinner’s stunning semi-final defeat of Djokovic, stylish encore against Medvedev from two sets down and the super Serb’s looming 37th birthday have Cahill believing the dawn of an exciting new era is coming.

Coach Darren Cahill (black cap)
Coach Darren Cahill (black cap) believes Jannik Sinner can be the next tennis superstar. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

After guiding Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Simona Halep to the top of the world and multiple grand slam crowns, Cahill is now working his magic with 22-year-old Sinner.

And the Australian is convinced the youngest Melbourne Park champion since Djokovic in 2008 has the class, charisma and temperament to challenge Alcaraz as the sport’s new king for years to come.

“This sport at the moment has a few superstars. I think Carlos is very similar to Jannik in both the way they play with the excitement level they bring to the game, and their personalities and their likability,” Cahill said in the glowing aftermath of Sinner’s watershed 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Medvedev.

“Both guys are incredibly alike off the court. They both like each other. They both have a friendly rivalry. They both light it up when they play each other. I don’t think any of their matches have ever been boring.

“We have some really good personalities in the game at the moment, and it’s important they keep winning.

“It’s important they do what Jannik was able to do, and that’s to show a side of this young generation that are going to fight till the very end. 

“They really want to make a name for themselves, and Jannik did that.

Carlos Alcaraz
Spanish young gun Carlos Alcaraz has impressed many with his hunger for hard work. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“Carlos has done that already a couple of times – the match he played at Wimbledon to beat Novak was just a special performance.

“Our job now is just to make sure that we keep him (Sinner) pumped up. 

“It’s because it’s the start of the year, it’s a long year, and it’s important to enjoy the moment, but when we get back on to the tennis court we will try to keep him in that good mindset and try to keep him winning.”

The laid-back and level-headed Sinner is adamant motivation won’t be a problem.

“Obviously having this trophy, it’s an amazing feeling. I feel grateful to have this here,” he said.

“But I know that I have to work even harder because the opponents, they will find the way to beat me and I have to be prepared.

“I have a great team behind me who knows what I have to do.

“With Darren, he has a lot of experience. He has been through this already numbers of time.

“(Co-coach) Simone (Vagnozzi), we were talking already after the match that we can improve still.

“Let’s see what’s coming in the future.”

Medvedev believes Sinner has shown with three wins over Djokovic from the pair’s past four matches that the Italian world No.4 has the potential to reign.

“That’s why we have rankings in tennis,” the vanquished Russian said.

“This tournament he was the best player in the world, and that’s why he won this slam. Right now he’s No.1 in the race.

“He continues playing like this, continues winning tournaments like this, he’s going to be No.1 in the world at one moment.

“But we never know what can happen. Many, many things can happen in the tennis career.

“That’s why I think tennis is a beautiful sport because you cannot look in the future.”