Borna Coric: 'At first, I thought Jannik Sinner was average, but then..'

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Borna Coric: 'At first, I thought Jannik Sinner was average, but then..'

Borna Coric had a chance to train with the young Italian Jannik Sinner in 2018 and again a year later at Riccardo Piatti Academy. At first, the Croat wasn't impressed with the Italian's game, calling it the average and seeing nothing special in his strokes.

By the time of their next practice sessions in April 2019, Borna noticed fantastic progress in Jannik's game, knowing he is ready to fight against many better-ranked rivals. Ranked 73th, Jannik is the youngest player in the top-200, embracing a breakthrough run in 2019 and gaining almost 500 places on the ATP list.

Sinner became the fifth U18 player since 2000 in the year-end top-100 after Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Denis Shapovalov. Born in a village in the Dolomites, Jannik was a promising skier before choosing tennis as his primary sport.

He made a professional debut in 2018, reaching the first Futures final. After a slow start of 2019, a tall youngster who works with Riccardo Piatti and Andrea Volpini advanced to the Aktobe Futures' semi-final, heading home to enter a Challenger in Bergamo.

In front of the home fans, Jannik claimed the first Challenger crown on the fast indoor court, dropping only 14 games in the last three encounters! It was the first Challenger title for 2001 generation but Jannik didn't stop there, conquering the trophy at Trento Futures in the following week to wrap up the entire fortnight.

After a much-needed rest, Sinner went to Santa Margherita Di Pula and secured another Futures title, this time on clay, rattling off 16 straight victories before scoring the first ATP win in Budapest at the end of April. Jannik was also the finalist of the strong Challenger in Ostrava, adding more points to his tally and preparing for the Masters 1000 debut in Rome.

In the Italian capital, Jannik became the first player of his generation with a Masters 1000 win.

Sinner earned a place in the main draw in Lyon and s-Hertogenbosch, gathering more experience on the ATP Tour ahead of North American hard-court swing.

There, he won Lexington Challenger and qualified for the main draw at the US Open, losing to Stan Wawrinka in four sets. The semi-finalist of 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 Next Gen Finals in Milan.

Jannik was the player to beat at another home event, dominating the field as the youngest competitor and defeating Alex de Minaur in the title match. A week later, Sinner wrapped up the season in Ortisei, delivering another high-quality performance on an indoor court to celebrate the third Challenger title of the season, becoming the youngest player to achieve that since Richard Gasquet.

The young Italian has won three matches so far in 2020, delivering the first Major triumph in Melbourne and advancing into the quarter-final in Rotterdam, seeking more notable results once the season resumes. "The first time I saw Jannik Sinner was in 2018, as we practiced together with Piatti.

He has made incredible progress in two years, because the first time I saw him, I thought he was average, with nothing special in his game. Then, the last time I played with him in April 2019, that had all changed, facing a big player with massive strokes. In modern tennis, it is essential to have weapons, something Jannik possesses," Borna Coric said.