Jannik Sinner is the big attraction of this edition of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Open tennis tournament, which gets underway on Saturday, April 6. The 22-year-old Italian is not the favourite to win the tournament, but most spectators, especially those from Italy, will come to the clay courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club with high expectations to see the rising star of international tennis in action, having conquered the world in the past five months.

Since losing the final against Djokovic in the Masters in Turin, Sinner won the Davis Cup with the Italian team, for the first time since 1976, and then the Australian Open and the tournaments of Rotterdam and Miami.

In 2024, he has won 21 of 22 matches and only lost the final at Indian Wells to Carlos Alcaraz. Thanks to this advance, Sinner has climbed in the world rankings from fourth to second place, just behind Novak Djokovic. Of course, his intention is to take that final step to the top in the coming weeks. Perhaps already before Roland Garros, but in any case, his fans hope that he will already be the number one of the ATP-ranking while participating in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

That final step to the global top starts in Monaco, where Sinner has felt at home for a few years now and wants to stay anonymous as much as possible. After last weekend’s tournament victory in Miami, he made a joke at the press conference; “do you know what I’m really looking forward to right now? Just driving through the streets of Monaco, because when I’m in a car, I can relax and think about other things and release myself from the tensions of the past month.” He returned on Tuesday after a month in America to fully focus on preparing for this spring’s clay court season.

“It’s even shorter than usual this year, I barely have a week to adjust to playing on clay. Monte-Carlo is the first tournament and therefore there are often surprising results at that tournament, especially in the first days when everyone is still looking for the right feeling on clay,” he said in an interview with sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport.

That’s why he certainly doesn’t feel like a favourite for the tournament victory; “It’s always special to start the clay season. Last year I wasn’t really in shape but this season it seems different and that’s why I’m very curious how I can make the transition to clay. Am I able to keep my shape. In any case, Roland Garros is the goal my sights set on, but it’s great to play in Monte Carlo in the area I know well and especially with a lot of Italian fans, who occupy the stands well and are always a support.”

In Miami, he emphasized that the hunt for first place is also a matter of patience. “Now I’m number 2 and I’m very happy to have made it. They are for me and for my team those who support me and give me so much. I always work to be the best version of myself, to grow on the court and possibly as a person,” said Sinner.

For the young Italian, it all started with winning the Davis Cup in Malaga, especially because he managed to get rid of three match points in the semi-final against Djokovic and eventually won that match at the expense of the champion, who had won the Masters final against him a week earlier. “Winning the Davis Cup was great. Sharing joy with teammates is something that we tennis players are not used to experiencing. And I’m happy because we were able to reciprocate in some way the love that the Italian fans gave us. Italy deserved this joy.”

The tournament in Monte Carlo will also be the reunion with the Italian public who follow him with great passion and will certainly cross the border for him. In his homeland, the carrot-coloured boy from Südtirol is already being carefully compared to the sports heroes Alberto Tomba, Valentino Rossi, Pietro Mennea or Fausto Coppi. We are not there yet, but it doesn’t have to take long before Sinner can be regarded as the first Italian tennis player to be the best in the world.

Featured image courtesy of REUTERS/Issei Kato: Italy’s Jannik Sinner poses with the Australian Open trophy