Australian Open 2024: Sinner has a plan to win: Agassi executed it and it worked for him | Tennis | Sports

Jannik Sinner, a sort of cyborg on the track, is so discreet and silent that when crossing one of the corridors of the Melbourne Park training center, he does not even attract attention. Low cap, loose sweatshirt, arms and legs like whitish threads, the Italian gives the sensation of being in a trance, as if he were preparing the big move. The idea is not crazy. Behind him, a few meters behind, approaches the main ideologist of the plan, Darren Cahill, who in an interview given at the end of December to Corriere della Sera, concedes: “Jannik is already ready to win a big match, he can do it in Australia. Physical appearance is one of our priorities. The basics were already there thanks to the work with Piatti (his former trainer), but he will gain more muscle mass by taking small steps. Joints, ligaments and bones must be protected. But now he trusts his body more, he suffers less and he knows himself much better.

“I’m all muscular, yes…” the tennis player joked last week, after finishing the premiere in Melbourne. “I’m skinny, but that’s okay. I’m happy with my body, even though no, I’m not Baywatch…,” continued the Tyrolean, who from the first to the penultimate season of the tournament – 6-4, 7-6(5) and 6-3 against the Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals – signed a route impeccable which multiplies the general feeling that the moment has come, its hour, which Cahill affirms so forcefully: he is ready to beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-final on Friday (7-6(3), 4-6, 6- 2 and 6-3 against Taylor Fritz) and win his first major title. “I’m working for this, to play against the best in the world, so it will be a pleasure to play against Novak, who has an incredible track record here.” Actually, there are two. To the ten trophies he collected in Australia, the Serbian added a streak of 33 consecutive victories, which equals the record obtained by Monica Seles in her time.

“I have a lot of confidence in myself and I know that the mind is the most important thing,” underlines the world number four, full of energy since the fall – success in Beijing and Vienna, semi-finals of the Masters, victory in the Davis Cup, two bites from Djokovic himself – and consolidated in this take-off of the season which promises so much. To do this, as has been said, Sinner has a plan, the same one that André Agassi executed in his time with the help of the wise Cahill. And it worked. In 2003, the American entered the first major match of the year without playing a single official preparation match, and triumphed. It was his last big success. He overtook the German Rainer Schüttler and was then 32 years old, eleven more than Sinner today. The Italian, a dedicated boy like few others, the perfect student that every coach dreams of, listens, notes in his notebook and applies himself. The result? The most efficient transit on the way to the crossing with Djokovic, much requested by Fritz.

Sinner hasn’t dropped a single set and respect for her candidacy is growing. Van de Zandschulp, De Jong, Báez, Khachanov and Rublev suffered it, in single file. “We prefer not to stress him with a tournament before competing in Melbourne to protect his body and mind. This is the strategy I used with André during the five years I coached him. So he had time to recover well and ski (a sport in which he also emphasized professionalism) for a few days in moderation,” Cahill said these days. “We made this decision because that I finished last season very late. I didn’t want to have too many vacation days, but at the same time I wanted to avoid competitive tensions. “I’m very confident in my possibilities,” he says, l one of the attractions of this final stretch of the tournament.

The rhythm of the ball

He’s not the only one to have opted for the less-is-more route. Carlos Alcaraz, met today (11:15 a.m., Eurosport) with Alexander Zverev, also preferred the formula of dosage and concentration of efforts on the fly. They both participated in a few exhibitions, nothing more. “In addition to all the conditions he meets, he is a good boy,” says a voice with great experience on the circuit; “and he probably has the highest ball pace of all.” Demanding, asking for more. “I’m sure I can improve,” he says. “I’m one of those type of players who always want more. If I can implement changes from tournament to tournament, I will. Meanwhile, his coach considers the victory against Medvedev in the final in Beijing a definitive turning point: “There he left his comfort zone, because Daniil is like a chess game. “It was a masterpiece, more than the victories against Djokovic in Turin and Malaga.”

Sinner tries to return the ball to Khachanov.LUKAS COCH (EFE)

So far, Sinner has won 10 titles, with the Masters 1000 in Toronto won last summer being his most important decoration. History says he is the third youngest to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open without losing a set, after Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, both aged 21 in 2008. At the same time , other data shows that he is already among the 20 youngest tennis players, young people who have won 40 Grand Slam tournaments; This gains more relevance when you take into account that 18 of the remaining 19 were proclaimed champions in one of the four scenarios. The Beckers, Borg, Wilander, Agassi, Hewitt, Edberg, Sampras, Safin, McEnroe… shine there.

“I’m looking forward to (Friday’s pulse). It’s going to be hard, I know. I will control what is controllable, which is giving one hundred percent and having the right attitude, fighting for every ball. And then we will see the result. “I can’t do more,” he says while number one defines Seles as one of his great historical references – “we all wonder how far she would have gone if she hadn’t had to experience this what happened (she was stabbed on the track)” – and with his team he develops a strategy to face the big wave of the moment, the boy who is called to pilot tennis with Alcaraz for at least the next decade . No, Sinner is not Baywatch and probably won’t either. But this is not necessary. He plays tennis like few others today.

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