Rising from the Shadows: Jannik Sinner's Path to ATP Newcomer of the Year
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 781
The 2019 season was successful for the young guns, with eight of them finishing in the top-100 and getting a chance to attack higher positions in the upcoming years. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jannik Sinner were the leading candidates for the ATP Newcomer of the Year award, which went to an 18-year-old Italian.
Jannik enjoyed stellar progress in 2019, securing another recognition in an already packed year. Between 2000 and 2018, only four U18 players finished the season inside the top-80 on the ATP ranking list. Rafael Nadal did that twice in 2003 and 2004 before Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic joined him on the list in their last U18 season in 2005, with no updates in the next 12 years!
In 2017, Denis Shapovalov entered the exclusive chart following the semi-final at home Canada Masters, the fourth round at the US Open and two Challenger titles, looking good to stay the last player with that achievement for many years.
Instead, Jannik completed a long journey from outside the top-550 toward a place in the top-80 after an incredible run between February and November. Thus, he added his name to the table and joined notable and established players.
Born in a village in the Dolomites, Jannik was a promising skier before choosing tennis as his primary sport, making a professional debut in 2018 and reaching the first Futures final. After a slow start in 2019 in Tunisia, a tall youngster advanced into the semi-final of the Aktobe Futures before heading home to Bergamo.
Sinner shifted into a higher gear and claimed his first Challenger crown on the fast indoor court, dropping only 14 games in the last three encounters! It was the first Challenger crown for the 2001 generation, and Jannik did not stop there.
He conquered the Trento Futures in the following week to wrap up a perfect fortnight. After a much-needed rest, Sinner went to Santa Margherita Di Pula and claimed another Futures title, this time on clay, rattling off 16 straight victories!
Jannik Sinner claimed the ATP Newcomer of the Year award in 2019.
The time was right for Jannik's first ATP win, which came in Budapest at the end of April. Right after that, the Italian was the finalist of the strong Challenger in Ostrava, securing further ranking progress ahead of the home Masters 1000 event in Rome.
Sinner became the first player of his generation to win at that level, ousting Steve Johnson in a tight third set for another milestone in front of his home crowd. Jannik earned a place in the main draw in Lyon and s-Hertogenbosch, gathering more experience on the ATP Tour ahead of the North American hard-court.
The young gun conquered the Lexington Challenger and qualified for the US Open main draw, losing to Stan Wawrinka in four sets. The semi-finalist in Mouilleron le Captif Challenger and the ATP 250 event in Antwerp, the Italian cracked the top-100 for the first time after one victory at the ATP 500 event in Vienna, earning another achievement for his generation and gathering momentum ahead of the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan.
Jannik was a player to beat in front of the home fans, dominating the field despite being the youngest competitor and defeating Alex de Minaur in the title match to confirm the status of the upcoming star. Sinner wrapped up the season in Ortisei a week later, delivering another high-quality performance on an indoor court to celebrate his third Challenger title in 2019.
Thus, Jannik became the youngest player to achieve that since Richard Gasquet, closing the year in the top-80 and finding himself in the year-end top-10 two years later!