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Top ranking looms for Jannik Sinner but injury puts Paris spot in doubt

The 22-year-old won his first Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open and backed that up with title runs in Rotterdam and Miami, underlining his credentials as the man to seize power at the top of the men's game.
Last Updated : 21 May 2024, 08:57 IST
Last Updated : 21 May 2024, 08:57 IST

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But for a hip injury Italian Jannik Sinner would have arrived at the French Open as the favourite to claim the title and become world number one for the first time in his career.

The 22-year-old won his first Grand Slam title at this year's Australian Open and backed that up with title runs in Rotterdam and Miami, underlining his credentials as the man to seize power at the top of the men's game.

The switch to European clay has, however, stalled his charge.

He withdrew from the Madrid Open before his quarter-final because of a hip issue and pulled out of the Rome Masters altogether, robbing him of the chance to replace Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

The likelihood is that Sinner, even if he is forced to miss the French Open, will overtake Djokovic at the conclusion of the year's second Grand Slam as he has few points to defend from the tournament, while an out-of-form Djokovic could lose 2,000.

But that would not be the way he wants to scale the summit.

Sinner has stated that he will not play at Roland Garros unless he is 100% recovered from the hip injury that flared up during his third-round win over Pavel Kotov at the Madrid Open.

But there have been encouraging signs and he posted photos of himself practising in Monte Carlo having spent time undergoing treatment at the state-of-the-art medical facility of Italian soccer club Juventus.

While Sinner has made positive noises about his chances of participation in Paris, hip injuries are dreaded by tennis players and he would be fully justified in skipping the French Open to avoid creating a longer-term problem.

If, and it remains a very big if, Sinner does arrive at Roland Garros firing on all cylinders he would rightfully be marked down as a likely champion.

His thunderous power of both flanks, vastly-improved serve and durability have seen Sinner overtake Spain's Carlos Alcaraz in the battle to assume control of men's tennis.

Born in the Alpine town of San Candido near the border with Austria, Sinner is not as demonstrative as some of his fellow Italian players but he boasts a granite-like temperament that makes his one the most ferocious competitors on the Tour.

His breakthrough came at the back end of last year when he reached the ATP Finals in Turin, beating Djokovic in the group stage before losing to him in the final and taking down the Serb in singles and doubles to lead his nation to Davis Cup glory.

The French Open has not always been kind to him, however, highlighted by last season's second-round loss to Germany's Daniel Altmaier while the previous year he retired in the last 16 against Russian Andrey Rublev with a knee issue.

Although it would be a blow for the French Open if he pulled out, the tennis world will benefit in the longer run as Sinner looks destined to add extensively to his Grand Slam haul over the next few years.

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Published 21 May 2024, 08:57 IST

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