John McEnroe: 'Jannik Sinner will crack the top-10 in a couple of years'


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John McEnroe: 'Jannik Sinner will crack the top-10 in a couple of years'

Choosing tennis over skiing, Sinner started to play professional tournaments in 2018, reaching the final at Futures and setting eyes on higher goals in 2019 despite still being ranked outside the top-500 in February. Entering Bergamo Challenger on the fast indoor surface, Jannik claimed the first title at that level for himself and 2001 generation, staying on the winning course and conquering two Futures after that for 16 straight victories, still at the age of 17!

The first ATP win came soon after that in Budapest, reaching another Challenger final and becoming the first player of his generation with the Masters 1000 triumph after beating Steve Johnson at home in Rome. By the end of the year, Jannik lifted the trophy in Lexington Challenger, qualifying for the main draw at the US Open and sealing the deal with the semi-final in Antwerp and two titles at the Next Gen Finals and Ortisei Challenger to find himself in the top-80.

Overall, Jannik became the youngest player with three Challenger titles in a season since Richard Gasquet and one of five U18 competitors in the year-end top-80 since 2000, joining Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov on the exclusive list.

With much bigger pressure on his back, Jannik started the new season with two early defeats, hoping for a better run at his debut in Melbourne, facing a qualifier in the first round ahead of the possible clash with Denis Shapovalov.

The seven-time Major champion John McEnroe has fancied what he saw from Sinner so far, praising the abilities of the young Italian and seeing him in the top-10 in a couple of years. "Jannik is one of the most talented kids I've seen in the last ten years," McEnroe said.

"He's going to be hunted a little bit and people are going to dig in a little bit more and not want to lose to an 18-year-old. He will have to deal with it in the upcoming months. I suspect, in a few years, you are going to see him in the top-10, give him two or three seasons.

Jannik looks to be physically very gifted. Along with many other tennis fans and tennis players, I have been watching him from a distance and understanding that this guy is a rare talent."