How Jannik Sinner’s title run after maiden Grand Slam compares to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer

Shahida Jacobs
Jannik Sinner trophy celebrations
Jannik Sinner of Italy is seen posing with the Rotterdam Open trophy

Jannik Sinner ended a two-decade curse with his Rotterdam Open title on Sunday as he became the first man since 2001 to win an ATP Tour title in his first tournament after winning his maiden Grand Slam.

Three weeks after making his major breakthrough with victory over Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open final, Sinner continued his title-winning form as he defeated Alex de Minaur in the Rotterdam final.

The Italian took his unbeaten start to the season to 12 matches as he became the first player since Lleyton Hewitt followed up his 2001 US Open title with the Japan Open trophy.

Australian Hewitt won his maiden Grand Slam by defeating tennis great Pete Sampras 7–6 (7–4), 6–1, 6–1 in the final at Flushing Meadows and four weeks later he won the Japan Open by beating Swiss player Michel Kratochvil 6–4, 6–2 in the final.

There had been 16 different first-time major winners after Hewitt, but they all failed to win a title in the next ATP Tour event.

READ MORE: Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner’s 2024 tennis schedule: Italian makes tweak to his calendar

So how did the biggest names in the business compare to Hewitt and Sinner in their first tournaments after winning a major?

2022 Carlos Alcaraz – first round

Spaniard Alcaraz was the most recent first-time Grand Slam winner as he won his maiden Slam at the US Open in 2022 after beating Casper Ruud in four sets.

With it came the world No 1 ranking and he was the top seed at his next event, the Astana Open. However, he lost his first as he was beaten 7-5, 6-3 by David Goffin.

Before Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz was the newest Grand Slam winner as he lifted his first major at Flushing Meadows just under two years ago.

2021 Daniil Medvedev – fourth round

After finishing runner-up at the 2019 US Open and 2021 Australian Open, third time was a charm for Medvedev as he defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in the 2021 US Open final.

He only returned to action at the Indian Wells Open in October, which was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he won his opening two matches before going down 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 against Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.

2020 Dominic Thiem – quarter-final

Austrian Thiem was a groomsman three times before he finally won his maiden Grand Slam at the 2020 US Open, defeating Alexander Zverev in five sets in the final.

The French Open was next up as it was rescheduled because of Covid-19 and Thiem won his first three matches in straight sets before he was taken to five sets against Hugo Gaston in the fourth round.

He survived the Gaston battle, but there wasn’t much left in the tank in the quarter-final when Diego Schwartzman also took him to five sets. Schwartzman won 7-6 (7-1), 5-7, 6-7 (6-8), 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

2014 Marin Cilic – quarter-final

One of the few non-Four Four finals in the last two decades saw Marin Cilic defeat Kei Nishikori 6–3, 6–3, 6–3 in the 2014 US Open final.

The Croatian’s next ATP event was the China Open and he won his opening two matches before losing 6-1, 6-4 against Andy Murray in the quarter-final.

two in Beijing before his hopes were dashed by Andy Murray in the quarter-final of the China Open.

2014 Stan Wawrinka – fourth round

The 2014 season saw two first-time Grand Slam winners as Stan Wawrinka won the Australian Open with a 6–3, 6–2, 3–6, 6–3 win over Rafael Nadal in the final. In fact, Sinner was the first non-Big Three player since Wawrinka to win the Australian Open.

The Swiss great reached the fourth round of the Indian Wells Open on the back of two straight-set wins, but then went down 7-6 (7-1), 4-6, 6-1 against South African Kevin Anderson.

2012 Andy Murray – semi-final

Andy Murray ended his own curse back in 2013 when he became the first British men’s singles Grand Slam winner since Fred Parry in 1936 by defeating Novak Djokovic 7–6 (12–10), 7–5, 2–6, 3–6, 6–2 in the final.

The Japan Open was up next and he reached the semi-final before going down 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4) against Milos Raonic.

2009 Juan Martin del Potro – first round

Juan Martin del Potro first beat Rafael Nadal in the semi-final and then stunned Roger Federer in the 2009 US Open final as he won 3–6, 7–6(7–5), 4–6, 7–6(7–4), 6–2 for his first and last Grand Slam title.

The Japan Open followed in October, but he went down meekly in the first round as Edouard Roger Vasselin won 6-4, 6-4.

2008 Novak Djokovic – second round

Novak Djokovic won the first of his 24 Grand Slams at the 2008 Australian Open as he beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga in the final.

After losing a Davis Cup qualifier match against Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko, the Serbian returned to ATP Tour action at the Marseille Open and won his opener before going down 6-2, 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 against Gilles Simon in the second round.

2005 Rafael Nadal – first round

After becoming a Grand Slam champion at the age of 19 with a 6–7(6–8), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5 victory over Mariano Puerta in the 2005 French Open final, Nadal returned to action at the Halle Open a fortnight later.

And it was a happy return for the Spaniard as he lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 against German Alexander Waske.

2004 Gaston Gaudio – final

Gaston Gaudio is one of only three players since Hewitt in 2001 to reach the final.

After defeating fellow Argentine Guillermo Coria 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6 in the 2002 French Open final, Gaudio won his next four matches at the Swedish Open in Bastad – including a straight set win over a young Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final. However, he came up short in the final as he lost 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-4) against Mariano Puerta.

2003 Roger Federer – final

Roger Federer also holds the distinction of reaching the final of the first tournament after his maiden Grand Slam title.

The Swiss won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003 as he defeated Mark Philippousis 7–6 (7–5), 6–2, 7–6 (7–3) in the final.

Next up was his home event, the Swiss Open in Gstaad and there were high hopes of back-to-back titles as he reached the final before losing 7–5, 3–6, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6 against Jiri Novak.

2003 Andy Roddick – third round

Just months after Federer won his maiden Grand Slam, Andy Roddick followed in his footsteps when he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero in the 2003 US Open final.

After losing a Davis Cup match against Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty, Roddick returned to winning ways by beating Max Mirnyi in his opening match at the Madrid Open before going down 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 against Nicolas Massu in the third round.

2003 Juan Carlos Ferrero – fourth round

Former world No 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won his won and only Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in 2003 with a 6–1, 6–3, 6–2 win over Martin Verkerk.

Wimbledon was next on the agenda for the Spaniard, but he was beaten by Sebastian Grosjean as the Frenchman won 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-3).

2002 Albert Costa – first round

Albert Costa won the 2002 all-Spanish French Open final as he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-1, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 in the final at Roland Garros.

But he didn’t exactly set the world alight at his next tournament as he was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by qualifier Paul Henri Mathieu in the first round in Gastaad.

2002 Thomas Johansson – first round

After defeating Marat Safin 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in the 2002 Australian Open final, Johanson lost his next match as he went down 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 against Great Britain’s Greg Rusedski at the Marseille Open.