Toni Nadal’s lavish Jannik Sinner claim may be ominous for Novak Djokovic’s hopes

Kevin Palmer
Darren Cahill and Jannik Sinner 2024 Australian Open
Darren Cahill and Jannik Sinner with the 2024 Australian Open trophy

Jannik Sinner is the talk of tennis after his Australian Open victory and now Toni Nadal has suggested his first major title success in Melbourne could have a profound impact on the future of the sport.

The uncle and former coach of 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has rarely held back on his views on all aspects of the game and he has given a forthright verdict on Sinner’s breakthrough victory in Melbourne.

It may be far too early to write off Djokovic’s hopes of challenging for major titles in 2024, but Nadal has suggested the Italian has moved to a new level after claiming his first Grand Slam title.

Sinner struggled to make his mark in the opening exchanges of the Australian Open final and appeared to be heading towards defeat as he lost the first two sets against an inspired Daniil Medvedev.

Yet he found a way to turn the match around and win in five sets, which may well be looked back on as a big moment as the sport moves into a new era that may not see world No 1 Novak Djokovic dominating as he has done in recent years,

“I started to think that Jannik would not be able to resist and overcome the nerves that come in big matches,” Nadal wrote in El Pais, as he reflected on the Australian Open final.

“It was precisely in the next game that he managed to release his anxiety and began to hit the ball with greater speed.

“From that moment on, and I talked about it to my children, he didn’t miss a single point.

“When a player’s shots are no longer enough to win, he has no choice but to resort to tactics. But Medvedev didn’t even have a choice. The Italian’s power and precision completely destroyed him.

“I commented on the match with my children. This big and significant step could change the landscape of tennis in the coming years.

“Although Sinner had long been considered (Carlos) Alcaraz’s most likely rival, he lacked a victory of that magnitude to back it up. Now he will be Alcaraz’s biggest rival in the coming years.”

Sinner’s coach Darren Cahill also gave his view on the potential rivalry at the top of the men’s game between his man and Wimbledon champion Alcaraz, as he suggested there will be more young guns ready to join the party when Djokovic’s time at the top comes to an end.

READ MORE: Jannik Sinner opens up on his dream of replacing Novak Djokovic as world No 1

“I think this sport at the moment has a few superstars,” said respected Australian coach Cahill.

“I think Carlos is very similar to Jannik in both the way they play with the excitement level they bring to the game and their personalities and their likability.

“Both guys are incredibly alike off the court. They both like each other. They both have a friendly rivalry. They both light it up when they play each other. I don’t think any of their matches have ever been boring.

“I think we have some really good personalities in the game at the moment, and it’s important they keep winning.

“It’s important they do what Jannik was able to do today, and that’s to show a side of this young generation that is going to fight till the very end. They really want to make a name for themselves, and Jannik did that.

“Carlos has done that already a couple of times, the match he played at Wimbledon to beat Novak was just a special performance.

“Our job now is just to make sure that we keep him pumped up. It’s because it’s the start of the year, it’s a long year, and it’s important to enjoy the moment but when we get back onto the tennis court we will try to keep him in that good mindset and try to keep him winning.”