Watching closely will be Italian coach Simone Vagnozzi, who has already had a major influence on the 20-year-old since they started working together in February. The former coach of Marco Cecchinato and Stefano Travaglia has quickly achieved strong results with Sinner, having overseen quarter-final runs at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami, Monte Carlo and Rome.
Ahead of Sinner’s clash with Rublev, Vagnozzi spoke to ATPTour.com about how their partnership is going, Sinner’s competitive nature and more.
You recently started working with Jannik. How did the partnership come about and how are you finding the relationship so far?
We started the week before Dubai when Jannik ended his partnership with [Riccardo Piatti]. The agent called me and asked if I was free. I was free and I started and I think in these first three months the partnership is going well. We have had some small troubles physically, like the blisters in Miami and the injury in the first set in Rome against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, but it was not big.
I am really happy with my feelings with Jannik and I am really happy to work with him because he is a really nice guy and always gives 100 per cent, so it is really easy to work with him.
Is there anything specific you two have been working on since you joined forces?
We are working a lot on his serve. I think within the three months he has improved a lot. The speed of the first serve is improving and the speed of the second serve. How he changes the direction on the second serve is important as well.
We are also working on adding more variety — hitting drop shots and coming to the net more. He is trying to do everything and I am really happy with how he is trying to change in matches, it is not easy. From these changes, I am happy with the results he has had. He has had a good clay season, so I am happy with the progress.
Jannik will play Andrey Rublev in the fourth round at Roland Garros. What have you made of his run in Paris so far?
The first round we had a really good match against Bjorn Fratangelo. The second round was really tough against [Roberto] Carballes Baena, who is a fighter. They played in the evening and the court was slower, so it was not easy to close the points and we were happy to get through. Against [Mackenzie] McDonald we were really happy, because he had a problem with his knee, but this kind of thing can happen during two weeks at a Grand Slam.
It was really good to win the match with this injury and today on Sunday he is already better in training. He will be 100 per cent to play against Rublev. They played in Monte Carlo, it was a fight, a three-set win. I am sure it will be another tough match.
Sinner Sinks McDonald In Paris
Jannik has saved match points and gone on to win in four matches so far in 2022. How impressed are you with his mental strength on court?
He is a fighter. He never wants to lose a point in tennis and then off the court he never wants to lose at cards! He likes the tough situations and the pressure points. He is not scared to play pressure points, so for a coach it is much easier to work with someone who has this mentality.
Jannik has already broken the Top 10 and enjoyed so much success. What are your aims going forward together?
We didn’t plan any ranking or winning tournament goals. We are just focused on improving his game. This is the goal for this year: to improve his fitness, his running. We are working to be ready in one year or two years to win consistently. He can have amazing results now, but we have to work on his technique, tactics and body more. The goal now is to improve his steel.
Last year you weren’t working with Jannik but he had a good year. What were your thoughts on him from the outside?
I saw him play a lot. He beat my ex-player [Stefano] Travaglia. I worked with Travaglia in 2021. Jannik beat him in the final in Melbourne [at an ATP 250]. From the outside, I thought he was a really talented guy and had an unbelievable mentality, so I was not surprised with his results. I know he is one of the best young guys on the Tour, so we just have to work and focus to improve.
What do you like to do together when you are away from tennis?
We like to watch soccer. We watched the Champions League final. We ordered room service and watched the final. For soccer, I am an Inter [Milan] fan and he is an [AC] Milan fan, so there is a little rivalry. We also play cards and we love food in Italy, so we like to go to dinner. Jannik is a really good chef. He makes really good pasta with tomato sauce.
You Coached Marco Cecchinato and Stefano Travaglia in recent years, achieving success with both. How have the experiences you’ve had helped you as a coach today?
The experience helped me. I had three years with Marco and three years with Stefano. All the experience I have gained is good. Some I can use with Jannik, some not. I am still young, so I have to work a lot to reach the best coaches. The best coach gets the best from the player, so that is my goal.