Jannik Sinner gets real on very strong chances of overtaking Novak Djokovic at No. 1

Sinner has a great shot at replacing Djokovic at the world No. 1 spot after the French Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
Jannik Sinner gets real on very strong chances of overtaking Novak Djokovic at No. 1
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Jannik Sinner insists he is not giving too much of his focus to the possibility of overtaking Novak Djokovic at the world No. 1 spot despite being in a very strong position to do so. 

This Monday, Djokovic started the week with 9,9960 ranking points while Sinner has 8,770 points. On paper, it looks like a strong lead but Djokovic entered the French Open with 2,000 ranking points to defend as the defending champion while Sinner had just 45 points to defend since he lost in the second round at Roland Garros last year.

And on Monday, Sinner defended those 45 points by making it past Christopher Eubanks 6-3 6-3 6-4 in the French Open first round. 

Now, Djokovic must reach the French Open final in order to have any chance of retaining the world No. 1 spot after the second Grand Slam tournament of the season. If Djokovic makes the French Open final, Sinner can still get to the world No. 1 spot by reaching the semifinal. If both Sinner and Djokovic end up making the final, the Italian will still become the world No. 1 even with a loss. 

After starting his French Open run with a win, a reporter acknowledged to Sinner that he was in a strong position to overthrow Djokovic and asked the 22-year-old Italian if he was thinking "how it would look to be No. 1."

“No," Sinner responded. 

"At the moment, honestly I'm not thinking. I just try to get back where I want to be, as I said, trying to build confidence day by day. Every day for me, every shot I make or in practice session or in a match for me is important at this moment. 

"I'm just looking forward to compete. I mean, I love the competition. We can practice a lot, but without competition, it's not so much fun. 

"I know the scenarios, yes, but it's not about this at the moment. For sure it's a dream, yes, but in another way, I'm very relaxed. If it happens, it's great and I'm very happy. If not, I am very young still. You know, hopefully I can get to that point, and I'm just looking forward to compete again in two days and we'll see how I feel there on court.”

Jannik Sinner
Jannik Sinner© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Sinner addresses his physical condition and shape 

After beating Karen Khachanov on April 30th, the following day Sinner pulled out of his Madrid quarterfinal versus Felix Auger-Aliassime due to a hip injury that evidently bothered him against Khachanov. Then, Sinner also withdrew from Rome and there were also reports indicating that the Italian tennis star would not compete at Roland Garros. 

But Sinner came to Paris last week to test hi hip - and after a couple of days of good practice - he decided to play. After also playing his opening match, Sinner confirmed his hip felt fine but admitted that his condition still isn't where it needs to be.

“I came here and said if I played a first-round match, I’d only play if the hip is 100 percent, and the hip seems good. I’m very happy about that," Sinner said.

"The general shape…is not where I want to be, but it takes time. I had a long period without practice. It’s all normal in my mind. I know that I will struggle, but in the other way, I’m happy to be here. Today was a good day for me and then we see what I can do in the next round.”

Jannik Sinner
Jannik Sinner© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

In the French Open second round, Sinner will take on Richard Gasquet, against whom he has a 2-0 head-to-head.

What Djokovic said about the possibility of Sinner replacing him at No. 1?

Djokovic - who entered his 427th week at the world No. 1 spot this Monday - has been the top-ranked player in the world without any changes since winning his 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open. But now nine months later, Djokovic is in real danger of being replaced by Sinner at the top spot.

However, when asked about it before the start of the French Open, Djokovic insisted he wasn't bothered by that and that his focus was on winning Grand Slams and doing well for Serbia in team competitions.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

"At Slams, there is still a lot of motivation. At other tournaments not so much, but Slams, playing for Serbia, Olympics… Those kinds of things still move me, still give me strength and desire. I mean, that really is sufficient at this point in my career, that’s why I still play professionally," Djokovic said.

"Ranking is not my priority anymore – whether I add one, five or ten more weeks, it doesn’t concern me, I think I’ve done pretty well in that department (smiling)."

Jannik Sinner Novak Djokovic French Open