‘Jannik Sinner is a millimetre from Novak Djokovic – Nole fears him’, claims Slam winner

Novak Djokovic was beaten by Jannik Sinner at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals

Adriano Panatta has asserted that Novak Djokovic “fears” Jannik Sinner and believes the Italian is a “millimetre” from the world No 1 after the pair’s Davis Cup clash.

The former French Open champion described Sinner saving three match points to beat Djokovic as “a feat within a feat” and believes his compatriot will start his next encounter with the Serbian with an advantage.

Sinner survived three consecutive match points at 4-5, 0-40 in the final set of his singles rubber with Djokovic in Italy’s Davis Cup semi-final win over Serbia, before prevailing 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.

The victory saved Italy and tied the score at 1-1 after Miomir Kecmanovic had downed Lorenzo Musetti in the opening rubber to give Serbia the lead in Malaga.

Sinner then helped complete a stunning comeback as he and Lorenzo Sonego overcame Djokovic and Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4 in the decisive doubles tie.

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The world No 4 sealed Italy’s Davis Cup triumph with a 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Alex De Minaur in Sunday’s final against Australia, after Matteo Arnaldi defeated Alexei Popyrin in the first match.

The 22-year-old led his nation to their second Davis Cup title and first since 1976 to conclude his excellent 2023 season in the perfect fashion.

Sinner earned his first win against Djokovic in his fourth meeting with the 36-year-old Serbian in the group stage at the ATP Finals earlier this month. The 24-time Grand Slam champion then avenged the loss in a rematch in the final in Turin.

Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, Panatta – a member of Italy’s previous Davis Cup winning squad – hailed Sinner and suggested he is now a serious rival for Djokovic.

“All that’s missing is Rome and Paris, then we’re done! I’m happy, I don’t know the word envy. I’m dying and Sinner is being born!,” said the 73-year-old Italian.

“He is an example, he is a millimetre from Djokovic, they play on equal terms. Saving three match points is a feat within a feat. Next time, Jannik will start with an advantage. Nole fears him. With Jannik, we are good for ten years, he is square and mature.”

Panatta was instrumental in Italy securing their maiden Davis Cup trophy as he won both singles rubbers in a 4-1 final victory over Great Britain. The former world No 4 also won his only Grand Slam title at the 1976 French Open, having defeated Bjorn Borg en route.

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