When Jannik Sinner won the National Bank Open in Toronto back in August, the general response of the tennis world was that it was just the beginning for the talented young Italian.
And he wasted little time in proving everyone right.
The victory in Toronto was the second title of the year for Sinner but there were more to come, leaving the impression that the sky is the limit for the 22-year-old.
Here’s how the rest of 2023 went for the National Bank Open champion.
The turn-around from Canada to Cincinnati is tough and Sinner fell victim, losing the week after his title in Toronto to Dusan Lajovic in his first match at the Western and Southern Open.
Heading into the US Open among the favourites, Sinner started strong with a pair of straight-set wins before needing four sets to get past 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka. He failed to back up his quarter-final appearance from 2022 when he lost a five-setter to Alexander Zverev in the fourth round.
Picking Up Steam
After the US Open, Sinner found another gear. He finished the year by going 23-3 after the season’s final major.
It started with an impressive run at the ATP 500 event in Beijing, where he won the title by defeating back-to-back Top 3 opponents.
First, he took down fierce rival Carlos Alcaraz in the most lopsided match of their enthralling rivalry thus far 7-6(4), 6-1 to reach the final. The Italian followed it up by edging Daniil Medvedev in two tiebreaks to lift the trophy.
Like after his victory in Toronto, Sinner struggled the following week, going down in the round of 16 in Shanghai to Ben Shelton in a third-set tiebreak. But he bounced back with an even more impressive performance when he landed in Europe.
At the ATP 500 event in Vienna, he defeated four Top 20 opponents, including two from the Top 5, to win his fourth title of the year, once again defeating Medvedev in the final.
Djokovic Duels and Davis Cup Dominance
The month of November was defined by Sinner’s rivalry with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, as they met four times in the final two events of the season.
Coming home to Italy for the ATP Finals in Turin after withdrawing prior to his third-round match in Paris, which would have been a rematch of the National Bank Open final with Alex de Minaur, Sinner was in top form in the group stage.
After a routine win over Stefanos Tsitsipas to kick off his campaign, Sinner did battle with Djokovic in the second match. Unlike their Wimbledon semifinal clash, where the Italian put up little resistance against the world No. 1, Sinner took it to Djokovic in front of his home crowd. The clash lasted over three hours with the home favourite emerging victorious in a third-set tiebreak to score his first victory over Djokovic.
Sinner found himself in a slightly strange situation in his final match of the Group Stage, where he could eliminate Djokovic by losing to Holger Rune. Ever the competitor, the Italian defeated his fellow young gun to win the group and allow the Serb to reach the semifinals.
The pair met again in the final, after Sinner defeated Medvedev once more, and Djokovic got his revenge, defeating the Italian in straight sets to claim the title.
Both men then turned their attention to Malaga and the Davis Cup Finals, where Italy and Serbia were on a semifinal collision course.
With the weight of his country on his shoulders, Sinner took his game to another level.
In the quarter-finals, he scored both points to bring Italy back to defeat the Netherlands and set up a clash with Djokovic’s Serbia.
Competing in the second singles match, Sinner had the pressure of needing a win to keep his country alive after Miomir Kecmanovic defeated Lorenzo Musetti in the opening singles match. Sinner got off to a quick start, but Djokovic responded and the pair found themselves locked in a third set.
Djokovic had his nation on the brink when he went up love-40 on Sinner’s serve at 4-5, triple match point. The Serb had never lost a match in his career after holding consecutive match points.
But that changed that Saturday in Malaga. Sinner saved the match points, held serve, then broke Djokovic before serving out the shocking win. The two met again in the next match, the decisive doubles match, and it was once again the Italian getting the job done, sending his country to the final with a straight-set win. Across both disciplines, it was his third victory over the singles No. 1 in four meetings in November.
The last match of 2023 was a repeat of the Toronto final as Sinner had a chance to claim the Davis Cup crown against de Minaur. It was not even as close as the National Bank Open final had been, as the Italian ended his season in style with a 6-3, 6-0 victory to win Italy’s first Davis Cup title since 1976. He was 5-0 in singles and doubles in the Final 8, losing just one set.
Sinner finished 2023 ranked a career-high No. 4 in the world having won four titles and the Davis Cup, with the two of the singles titles and the team competition coming after winning in Canada. He finished with the second-most match wins (64, two back of Daniil Medvedev) and the third-best winning percentage on tour.
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