For two sets the wonderful boy stood up to the Master of Clay, demonstrating that Jannik Sinner has the character, the personality, the allure of the champion, the rising master. He missed a handful of experience: at 19 years old it is not a mortal sin.
The miracle in Paris was not there, in the icy evening of this strange autumn Roland Garros. Jannik Sinner was not able to pierce the extraordinary Rafa Nadal, and win a semifinal that would have been magnitude 10, but still opened a window on his future and Italian tennis.
And perhaps when faced with the chance to toddle the legend Nadal’s arm trembled even to him, South Tyrolean only apparently glacial, when he had the service on 6-5 in his favor in the first set, and on 4-4 in the second. “If Jannik had won that first set I would have liked to see what Rafa would have invented,” says Riccardo Piatti, the coach who whispers about the phenomenon.
There is still a long way to go, Jannik can work on all the shots (the forehand, the smash, the serve), get used to frequent the net more, take better care of the athletic condition, learn to “save energy on the field and better manage the key moments of the match”, as Piatti preaches. But the fabric is there, and how. The goal for 2021 are big tournaments: Slam and Masters 1000, the playing field that counts the most.
Specialized observers and champions of the past have already glued a top 10 future on him (“maybe even better”, Corrado Barazzutti dares) and put at least one Slam in his pocket. “For me he can win a lot,” suggests Piatti. “Maybe even more than you think”. For this year, however, in the semifinals there will be the usual well-known Nadal, opposed to Schwartzman, and Djokovic, who defeated Carreno Busta and will face the young Tsitsipas. Jannik’s paradise can wait for one more year.