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Jannik Sinner vs Novak Djokovic: Australian Open Semi-Finals 2024 Battle of the Skiing Tennis Stars

Australian Open | 24. Januar 2024

Jannik Sinner against Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday is the duel between the two currently best players – and two athletes who once also excelled on skis.

Jannik Sinner (right) defeated Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals in Turin in November. Photo: Keystone

You can ski in the Sesto Valley, at the far end of South Tyrol on the border with Austria. The idols here are Gustav Thöni, Alberto Tomba and Dominik Paris. It was no different with Jannik Sinner. In 2008, the redhead was Italian champion in his age group in the giant slalom. But the talented junior was also quite good at tennis, according to Max Sartori, the coach of the former Gstaad finalist who first put South Tyrol on the tennis map.

Sinner was convinced to move from the mountains and snow to the Ligurian coast to the academy of star trainer Riccardo Piatti. He probably never regretted the decision, he wouldn’t have already won $17 million in prize money in skiing at the age of 22 – and whether he would already be the fourth best in the world is also questionable. But the ski bug didn’t let him go completely.

Excited for Paris

In Melbourne, his routine often looked like this: In the evening, the Italian liked to sit down in the hotel and watch ski races – in the middle of the Australian summer. “It’s very easy to follow the races here,” revealed Sinner at the start of the tournament. “It’s on the evening of our time, that’s perfect.” He was very happy about Dominik Paris’ victory in Val Gardena before Christmas. “I was very emotional then.” And when it comes to women, Brignone and Goggia are great anyway.

“It’s still a little bit in my blood,” Sinner said with a smile. At Christmas he even posted a video on social media of himself quickly swinging down a slope – a risk that Roger Federer, for example, no longer wanted to take, at least in the second part of his career. It didn’t harm the South Tyrolean’s tennis, on the contrary. Sinner was the only player to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne without losing a set. He seems ready for the ultimate challenge – and at the Australian Open that means even more than usual Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic has been unbeaten for six years

The Grand Slam record winner also skied at a young age when his parents ran a pizzeria in the southern Serbian mountains and sometimes worked as ski instructors. On snow he couldn’t hold a candle to his challenger, who is fourteen years his junior, but on the tennis court it’s a different story. Djokovic has been unbeaten in the Rod Laver Arena since 2018 and has already won the tournament ten times. He has never been more successful at any other major event.

Along with Carlos Alcaraz, who inflicted one of Djokovic’s rare defeats in a magnificent Wimbledon final, Sinner is the only player who is believed to be able to slow down the world number one in an ideal situation.

Won twice against Djokovic in the fall

Two things speak for Jannik Sinner. On the one hand, he has clearly left a stronger impression so far. Djokovic has already given up a set three times and was on the court for a total of almost four hours (15:11) longer than the Italian. On the other hand, Sinner took a big step forward last autumn and celebrated his first two victories against him at the ATP Finals in Turin (where he then clearly lost the final) and in the Davis Cup semi-finals in Malaga (after fending off three match points). Djokovic.

Sinner is therefore not the favorite on Friday, but he will believe in his chance of breaking Djokovic’s incredible series. The Serb is in the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the eleventh time and so far he has won the tournament every time he has gotten this far. “I know it will be hard,” Sinner has no illusions. “But I train exactly for these matches. I’m honestly looking forward to it.” Above all, the Italian will hope that things go better than in his only Grand Slam semi-final so far (3:6, 4:6, 6:7 at Wimbledon against Djokovic). Otherwise he might have to challenge him on skis.

2024-01-24 19:05:21
#Sinner #clear #favorite #Djokovic #skis

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