In Rafael Nadal's Wake: Jannik Sinner's Impressive Record Against World No. 1

Jannik Sinner is 4-2 against the world's best players

by Jovica Ilic
In Rafael Nadal's Wake: Jannik Sinner's Impressive Record Against World No. 1
© Handout / Handout - Getty Images Sport

Jannik Sinner has met world no. 1 six times, scoring respectable four victories. The young Italian is the second-best player since the start of the ATP ranking in 1973 in that segment, trailing only Rafael Nadal! The Spaniard had only one rival on his path against world no.

1 stars, challenging Roger Federer and finding an instant formula for overcoming the Swiss. Like Rafa, Jannik knows how to challenge the opponent from the top of the ATP list, toppling Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic four times and ending on the losing side two times against the Serb last year.

Sinner's first clash against world no. 1 came in Monte Carlo 2021 against Djokovic. Novak scored a 6-4, 6-2 win in an hour and 34 minutes, playing his first match since the Australian Open title. The Italian broke the Serb two times in the opener, but it was not enough to move in front.

Novak shifted into a higher gear in the second set and left the young gun behind. Jannik suffered five breaks to finish his campaign in the second round. Sinner broke in the third game of the encounter before Djokovic grabbed four games and moved 5-2 in front.

Jannik held after deuces in game eight and pulled the break back in game nine with a forehand winner, returning to the positive side. However, Novak clinched another break in the tenth game, wrapping up the opener 6-4 and gaining a boost.

World no. 1 forced the young gun's mistake in the fourth game of the second set, opening a 3-1 lead and holding after deuce in the next one to cement the lead.

Jannik Sinner© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Novak denied a break point in the seventh game with a powerful serve and closed the game with another to open a 5-2 gap.

Djokovic fired a backhand down the line winner in game eight, creating two match points. Jannik denied both with brave hitting before hitting a double fault on the third, ending his first match against world no. 1 on the losing side.

Two years later, Sinner changed that in the 2023 Miami Masters semi-final, ousting the defending champion Carlos Alcaraz 6-7, 6-4, 6-2 in three hours. Jannik beat Carlos for the third time in six duels, scoring wins over the Spaniard on all three surfaces.

Alcaraz served at 55% and got broken six times, losing ground in the decider after converting only three out of 12 break chances.

Jannik Sinner is 4-2 against world no. 1 players.

Jannik had the upper hand in the shortest exchanges up to four strokes.

Carlos came from 4-1 behind in the first set and wasted a set point on serve in the 12th game, allowing Jannik to introduce a tie break. The Spaniard clinched it 7-4 and gathered a boost. Sinner faced the ultimate test at 3-4 in the second set, defending two break points and delivering a pivotal hold.

The Italian broke at love in game nine and held at 15 at 5-4 to force a decider. Jannik served well in the third set and grabbed two breaks for a notable win and a place in the title clash. Sinner embraced four clashes against world no.

1 between November and January, pushing Djokovic to the limits and beating him three times! They battled in the ATP Finals round-robin stage, with the home favorite delighting the partisan crowd in Turin. Jannik prevailed 7-5, 6-7, 7-6 after three hours and eight minutes, securing his third victory over world no.

1 players. Two rivals served great on an indoor court, with 35 aces and only six break chances. Sinner got broken once and delivered two breaks. The young gun prevailed in the crucial moments, celebrating his first triumph over Djokovic.

Jannik bounced back from 0-40 in the 11th game of the opening set, clinching a break and holding at love at 6-5 for a massive boost. The second set went into a tie break after no break chances up for a grab.

Jannik Sinner, Colosseum 2024© Facebook - Jannik Sinner

Jannik missed a forehand at 4-5, and Novak seized the second set point with a service winner, introducing a decider after two hours and five minutes.

Sinner broke Djokovic in game six for a 4-2 lead, moving closer to the finish line. The Serb broke back in the next one, erasing the deficit and battling hard. They served well in the remaining games, arranging a deciding tie break.

Jannik made a fresh start and opened a massive 5-0 lead with a reliable tennis on the return and a booming serve in the fifth point. The home favorite fired a smash winner at 6-2, celebrating a massive victory. They met again a couple of days later in the final, with a different outcome!

Djokovic raised his level in a 6-3, 6-3 victory, leaving Sinner empty-handed. Novak saved both break points and kept the pressure on the other side. Jannik struggled physically and got broken three times, enough to propel world no.

1 over the top. It was Sinner's second loss against world no. 1 players, and he turned the tables in the upcoming duels! Jannik and Novak played their third match within two weeks at the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga. Sinner prevailed 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, fending off three match points on serve in the tenth game of the final set.

Thus, he kept Italy alive against Serbia and gained a massive boost ahead of 2024. Jannik served well in the opener and clinched two breaks, wrapping it up in 37 minutes. Djokovic responded in the second set, producing one good hold after another and stealing Sinner's serve two times to force a decider.

Jannik Sinner, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak served well and earned a break chance in game eight, denied by Jannik's forehand drive-volley winner. Djokovic clinched the ninth game at love and earned three match points on the return in the next one.

Sinner went for his shots, saving them and landing two powerful serves for 5-5. The Italian earned a break in game 11 with a forehand down the line winner and sealed the deal on his serve in the next one, beating the Serb for the second time within a week.

Two rivals met a few weeks ago in the Australian Open semi-final. The young gun ousted the veteran 6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in three hours and 22 minutes, reaching his first Major final and notching his fourth win over world no. 1.

Jannik outplayed Novak in every segment, beating the first player to beat the Melbourne king following the quarter-final round. Djokovic failed to create a break chance for the first time in completed matches at Majors, feeling the pressure and cracking under it!

Also, he sprayed over 50 unforced errors and struggled behind the initial shot, getting broken five times from 11 chances offered to Sinner. Playing confidently, Jannik tamed his strokes nicely, outplaying Novak in the shortest range up to four strokes and never stepping back, even after squandering a match point in the third set. Sinner and Djokovic could meet again in Indian Wells in March.

Rafael Nadal Jannik Sinner