A coaching change appears to be in the air for Jannik Sinner.
The 20-year-old, who reached the Australian Open quarter-finals last month, has been with long-time coach Riccardo Piatti since he was a youngster, having left home at the age of 13 to train at the Piatti Tennis Center in Bordighera.
But the first murmurings of change emerged in Melbourne with talk of Sinner wanting to hire a ‘super coach’ like John McEnroe. It was a move that neither side played down – McEnroe said he would be “definitely be available on a part-time basis” and Sinner said he would “like to be coached” by a “tennis legend” such as McEnroe.
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Now, though, it appears Sinner’s search for a ‘super coach’ is taking him in a different direction.
Why is Sinner splitting with Piatti?
Nothing has been confirmed yet, but the signs are that Sinner is soon going to hire a new coach.
It is not clear exactly what has gone wrong in the current relationship.
The results on court seem to have more than good enough for such a young player, even one with so much talent and potential.
In 2021 Sinner won four titles, fewer than only Alexander Zverev (6), Novak Djokovic (5) and Casper Ruud (5) on the ATP Tour. He also made the final of the Miami Open and became the youngest player since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to finish the season inside the top 10.
This year hasn’t started too badly either, with seven wins from eight matches and the only defeat coming against world No 4 Tsitsipas in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Perhaps the one-sided manner of the 6-3 6-4 6-2 loss to Tsitsipas has played a factor in the decision to split with Piatti, although the McEnroe links came up earlier in the tournament when he was looking impressive.
“I know that I have to improve many, many things, and this, for me today, was a lesson,” said Sinner after losing to Tsitsipas.
Riccardo Piatti watches Jannik Sinner train
Image credit: Getty Images
“I have to improve (my) tennis in general. I have to serve better. I have to do everything (better), especially when you play against the best guys.”
According to Italian tennis journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta, everything seemed harmonious off the court between Sinner and his team in Melbourne. Scanagatta hints that perhaps there have been disagreements over scheduling or Sinner wanting Piatti to be present during more of his matches. And there’s a suggestion that Sinner wants to take the next step right now and things aren’t moving quick enough.
No McEnroe, so who next?
While talk of McEnroe joining the team has ended, hiring a ‘super coach’ still seems to be the direction Sinner is planning to go.
Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport report that Boris Becker is a potential contender for the role.
Becker coached Novak Djokovic for three very successful years from 2013 to 2016 but has not been on the tour since.
Another candidate, according to Italian outlet Corriere della Sera, is Magnus Norman.
Stanislas Wawrinka, Magnus Norman
Image credit: Getty Images
Former world No 2 Norman was in Stan Wawrinka’s box for all three of his Grand Slam titles and was named ATP Coach of the Year in 2016. Norman split with Wawrinka in the summer of 2020 after an eight-year spell together.
Wawrinka and Sinner are both managed by StarWing Management.
As Sinner plans out his next move he is currently spending time with coach Simone Vagnozzi, who helped Marco Cecchinato make the semi-finals of the French Open in 2018. As a player Vagnozzi was coached by Massimo Sartori, who played a key role in discovering Sinner as a youngster and directing him to Piatti’s academy.
Not only will Sinner have to replace Piatti, but also the rest of his team, as his trainer and physiotherapist look set to loyal to Piatti.
Corriere della Sera add that Sinner is in a “frenzied rush to grow up”.
When will Sinner play next?
Sinner has not played since the Australian Open after testing positive for Covid-19.
He withdrew from the Rotterdam Open and also this week’s tournament in Marseille. He will next play alongside world No 1 Djokovic in Dubai on February 21.
It is reported by then that Sinner will have his new team in place.
The change comes at an interesting time for Sinner with the ATP 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami coming up next month. It will then be on to the clay, where the Italian is yet to make his real breakthrough on the ATP Tour. He has significant points to defend in Miami, having made the final last year, but otherwise has the chance to improve his ranking greatly over the next few months with some good results.
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