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Cahill: Alcaraz Blazed Trail for Sinner Slam Success

A rival Jannik Sinner to capture his maiden major in Oz, says coach Darren Cahill.

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, January 29, 2024

Rivalry revelry inspired Jannik Sinner to his maiden major championship, says co-coach Darren Cahill.

Seeing his rival, 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, capture a couple of Grand Slam championships fueled Sinner’s historic drive in becoming the first Italian, male or female, to win the Australian Open singles championship.

More: Richard Evans Q&A

The 22-year-old Sinner roared back from a two-set deficit defeating Daniil Medvedev 3-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to earn his maiden major championship in a pulsating AO comeback.

Sinner’s coaches, Simone Vagnozzi and Cahill, met the media in Melbourne afterward.

Cahill replied “Hell yeah” when asked if Alcaraz’s major success inspired Sinner’s Slam breakthrough.

“Hell, yeah. Absolutely,” Cahill said. “There’s no question seeing the young players come through and having success drives each and every one of them. Not just Jannik. They all desire it. They all want it.

“If they see one of their compatriots or someone of their generation having success, absolutely. Then you look into what they’re doing, why they’re having success, and how are we going to replicate it for us.”

The fourth-seeded Sinner is the first Italian man in 48 years to capture a major championship following in the footsteps of legendary Adriano Panatta, the 1976 Roland Garros champion.

Of course, Alcaraz and Sinner faced off in a classic 2022 US Open quarterfinal that’s widely regarded as one of the best men’s matches in recent years. Alcaraz fended off Sinner, 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3, then went on to defeat Casper Ruud to win his maiden major in New York.

Since that match, Sinner has beaten the Spanish superstar in two of their last three encounters—prevailing in the 2023 Miami Open semifinals and Beijing semifinals—and leads Alcaraz 4-3 in their head-to-head series.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic often credits his chase of Big 3 rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as the driving force that empowered him to develop a more complete game and become the Grand Slam king.

Given Sinner has won 10 of his last 11 matches vs. Top 5 opponents and snapped 10-time AO champion Novak Djokovic’s 33-match Australian Open winning streak in the semifinals, you can make a case the world No. 4 is the best player in the world right now.

Coach Cahill says Alcaraz continues to be a barometer for Sinner’s success: The goal for Team Sinner is to eventually advance Alcaraz.

“Carlos has trail blazed for a lot of young players,” Cahill said. “We’re thankful for that. He’s a delight to watch play, and a delight to watch him on court.

“We aspire to be as good as him and hopefully one day be better than him, but at the moment we’re chasing Carlos, and we’ll continue to do that.”

Photo credit: BNL Internazionali d’Italia Facebook

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