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

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

Post-match hug between Jannik Sinner and Novak Djokovic

Jannik Sinner has opened up about his dream of becoming world No 1, as he insisted he is not in any rush to knock Novak Djokovic off the top of the ATP rankings.

Sinner made Italian tennis history as he became the first player from his nation to lift the Australian Open title last month.

His win against Djokovic in the semi-finals of that tournament sparked suggestions that Sinner was ready to end the Serbian’s reign as the world No 1 tennis player.

Yet as he spoke during a tour of Italy with the Australian Open trophy, it was clear that he is in no rush to tick off his wish list of ambitions in the game.

“I’m taking it one step at a time,” he said. “I know I still need to improve physically and in terms of my fitness, which can help my tennis. I can do everything better. A lot of important steps have been taken but there’s still work to be done.

“There are many differences between the top 5 in the world, the top three and then No 1. For now, I am No 4. The first objective is to move forward in small steps. In the meantime, we are approaching position No 3.

“My target has always been to win a Grand Slam, and now that I have achieved it I want to experience again what it feels like to achieve it. The best thing I can do is train hard again soon.”

Sinner’s caution over his chase to end Djokovic’s reign as world No 1 is not misplaced and it will be close to impossible for him to knock the Serbian off top spot in the coming months.

The new Grand Slam champion has plenty of points to defend from 2023 over the next few weeks as he won an ATP 250 event in Montpellier in the first week of February last year and those points will drop off his record as he is not playing in the event this year.

He also has 300 points to defend from his run to the final of the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, where he is due to make his return to action.

A re-match with Daniil Medvedev is possible in that tournament as the Russian player will be top seed, while his compatriot Andrey Rublev is also due to play.

Holger Rune is another top ten player competing in Rotterdam, along with Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

Alex de Minaur, Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are also in the draw in a tournament that always attracts a high-quality field.

After that, Sinner may need to win the Indian Wells and Miami Masters events to boost his points tally in this quarter of the season, with Djokovic likely to move further clear at the top of the rankings in the next phase of this season as he didn’t play in those events in 2023 and therefore has no points to defend.

So it may be that Sinner will need to wait until the clay court season before he starts to gather momentum in his push to claim the world No 1 ranking.

Meanwhile, former world No 1 Andy Roddick has hinted he is ‘concerned’ about Djokovic’s performances at the Australian Open, as he gave his verdict on the new Served with Andy Roddick podcast.

“He kind of limped out of this tournament a little bit, you know, through no fault of his own, the guy’s been better than anyone on Earth, and it’s gonna happen,” the American said.

“But I’m a little concerned that: one, he’s not getting younger. When it turns, it turns quickly. Also, he has guys that can punch him in the mouth, you know, he has this new generation that once they know they can beat him, they’re not going to revert to the – the mentality that there’s no way to beat him.

“Well, I think it’s going to be about the mental gymnastics and how those play out. Like, I for 10 years, I haven’t been concerned about Novak playing Indian Wells or Miami or whichever hard-court event he’s gonna play next.

“Like, it’s just not as important as the Slams and he’s been able to show up to the Slams and play well and get results. I’m very interested to see how he comes out of the gates in an Indian Wells or a Miami and kind of the pressure and the defeat on a massive level.”