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Eye of the coach #92 : Can Sinner stay No 1?

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It’s one thing to get to No 1. It’s another thing to stay there.

Both, of course, are extremely difficult. However, the saying goes in tennis that it’s even more difficult to stay in the top spot of the rankings than it is to get there in the first place — and Patrick Mouratoglou does not disagree.

Mouratoglou explained the new challenge that awaits Jannik Sinner, who clinched the No 1 ranking on the ATP Tour for the first time during the 2024 Roland-Garros tournament.

“Of course it’s extremely difficult to reach the top” Mouratoglou commented, “but it is more difficult to stay at the top. You don’t have the right to fail anymore. You’re supposed to win all time. The pressure is unbelievable.”

The coach went on to say that the pressure on Sinner will especially show up in matches when he is a heavy favorite against a considerably lower-ranked opponent. There won’t be as much pressure on him against an opponent like Carlos Alcaraz, who is close to the same ranking and level.

“When you’re No 1 you don’t want to lose to a guy who is No 10, No 15 in the world. But those guys…some of them are very dangerous, so they can beat him. And when he’s gonna play them, he’s gonna feel extra pressure because’s he really not supposed to lose against them.

“People will understand (if he loses to Alcaraz). It’s okay to lose against him…. But if he loses against a guy who is No 10, No 15 in the world, then people will start to say, ‘oh, wow, maybe he’s not gonna stay (No 1). That sort of pressure will be higher.”

Key moments

  • 0.10 – Sinner reaching No 1 in the world isn’t a surprise; it was expected
  • 0.31 – It’s more difficult to stay at the top because of the pressure to win every match
  • 0.48 – It will be a challenge for Sinner to stay there, but he will likely deal well with the pressure
  • 1.00 – There are two dangers for Sinner: 1) Alcaraz; 2) everyone other than Alcaraz
  • 1.27 – Playing against lower-ranked opponents puts more pressure on the world No 1
  • 1.46 – Losing to Alcaraz wouldn’t be as bad because Alcaraz is close in ranking and level
  • 2.02 – If Sinner loses to a player outside the top 10, people will start having doubts
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