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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, June 4, 2024
Photo credit: Corleve/Mark Peterson

Before Jannik Sinner secured his semifinal spot, he scaled a massive professional peak.

Novak Djokovic withdrew from Roland Garros today due to a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

Rublev: I Kill Myself

The Grand Slam king's departure ends his reign as Roland Garros champion and as world No. 1.

World No. 2 Sinner, who swept Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(3) to reach his maiden French Open semifinal will supplant Djokovic as new world No. 1—and become first Italian to hold the top spot—when the new rankings are released on Monday.

"What can I say? First of all it is every player's dream to become No. 1 in the world," Sinner said in his on-court interview with ATP afterward. "In the other way, seeing Novak retiring here I think is disappointing. I wish him a speedy recovery."

Continuing his season-long elevation, the 22-year-old Sinner said he's thrilled to be new world No. 1 though he didn't want to realize his dream on Djokovic's injury.

"It means a lot to me for sure," Sinner told the media in Paris. "It's not the way we all were expecting actually. He had two very long matches, tough matches, five sets, so it's tough. The first one he finished really late also. You know, it's tough also for the tournament. Novak retiring, it's always tough.

"Talking about myself, I am very happy about this achievement. It's a lot of work we put in daily. It's a daily routine. Obviously happy to have this number. In two days there is a very important match for me, the semifinals, so I'm focused about that at the moment. But, yes, of course, very happy to have this number now."

While Sinner celebrates his rise to the top of the world, he targets two goals greater than world No. 1: improving as a person and as a player to fulfill his prodigious potential.


A post shared by Jannik Sinner (@janniksin)

"It represents a great result of work ethic," Sinner told Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim of his rise to the top. "It was one of our goals this year, but the most important goal is to always improve as a player and as a person, surrounding myself with great people and that's it.

"I think I can be very happy and pleased with what I'm doing and what my team is doing. Just looking forward to semis at the moment. It's not, for sure, the way I wanted to become No. 1 as Novak was retiring, but in the last period I played some really good tennis. I'm happy to be in that position. It's something new coming up for me. It's something good, so I'm very happy."

Sinner will be the 29th man to hold the world No. 1 ranking since the advent of the ATP rankings.

The 22-year-old Sinner will ride a 12-match major winning streak into the semifinals against either Wimbledon winner Carlos Alcaraz or 2021 French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas as Roland Garros is assured of a maiden men's singles champion for the first time since 2016 when Djokovic defeated Andy Murray in four sets.

Australian Open champion Sinner improved to 33-2 in 2024, including an 11-1 mark on clay.

Olympic gold-medal champion Alexander Zverev said Sinner is now the game's gold standard and could reign as world No. 1 "for the next 10 years" if he can sustain the lofty level he's delivered in 2024.

If he keeps it like that, then he's not only going to be No. 1 in the world, he's going to be No. 1 in the world for the next 10 years," Zverev said in Madrid last month. "But it's up to him and it's also up to me, up to Carlos, up to Daniil, up to Novak as well to stop him from doing that.

"Of course he's somebody that we now probably look out for, you know, one of two or three players that we look out for the most. We study him, we try to understand his game, we try to understand what can make him feel uncomfortable. And we'll see if we can use it."

Sinner's rise to the top is another milestone for accomplished co-coach Darren Cahiill, who works alongside fellow co-coach Simone Vagnozzi, on Team Sinner.

House of Gucci Ambassador Sinner is the fourth player Cahill has coached to world No. 1 following Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Simona Halep.

"We started to work now nearly two years now together. It's obviously a huge pleasure for me to have him," Sinner said of Cahill. "I still remember the first week we had in Eastbourne on grass. Immediately I had good feelings with him because he has a lot of experience obviously.

"I know that he brought different kind of players to World No. 1. He had great achievements also with different players. He knows how to adapt to each player, and I think this is a quality what's amazing, no? Him and also the combination with Simone is really, really good. They're two different coaches, but they work together really well. They are very humble, and they respect each other very much. I think the combination is very good. I'm lucky to have both of them and all the rest of the team."

Photo credit: Corleve/Mark Peterson