Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2022

Novak Djokovic ‘fears’ Jannik Sinner claims former French Open champion

Novak Djokovic ‘fears’ Jannik Sinner after their recent matchups, Italian tennis legend Adriano Panatta has claimed.

Sinner and Djokovic have faced each other four times in the last three weeks, with three of them coming in singles competition.

Three of those four have been won by the Italian, although Djokovic won the one that mattered most to win the ATP Finals title.

Sinner beat Djokovic in the round robin stage in Turin and again in singles in the Davis Cup final for Italy. Both players then suited up again for the deciding doubles rubber in which Sinner again came out of top.

The highlight of the recent exchanges was in the Davis Cup singles match, when Sinner becoming the first player to ever defeat Djokovic when the Serbian had three consecutive match points – and Panatta thinks that will have a lasting effect on the world number one.

“He is an example, he is a millimetre from Djokovic, they play on equal terms,” Panatta told Corriere dello Sport. “Saving three match points is a feat within a feat.

“Next time, Jannik will start with an advantage. Nole fears him. With Jannik, we are good for ten years, he is square and mature.”

The comments show a remarkable backtrack from Panatta, who was scathing of his criticisms of Sinner earlier this year.

Sinner opted to withdraw from the Italian Davis Cup squad for the Group Stage Finals in September due to a hectic schedule on the ATP Tour, explaining that he required rest ahead of the Asian swing.

Panetta publicly criticised that decision, comparing him to MotoGP star Francesco Bagnaia who returned immediately after a bad accident at the Catalan Grand Prix

“Today, tennis players are businesses and, as such, they only think about profit, especially those around them, forgetting history and feelings,” Panetta said at the time.

“He had already given up on the Olympic Games, today he says no to the Davis Cup. Jannik is tired? Bagnaia, three days after the accident, was already on the bike.”

Can Jannik Sinner topple Novak Djokovic in 2024?

There is little doubt that as the ‘big three’ era ebbs away in history, we are getting a look at what the future of men’s tennis looks like. Sinner is absolutely at the forefront of that alongside Carlos Alcaraz.

Alcaraz has already delivered, though. He has won two majors, defeated Djokovic in a Grand Slam final and been world number one.

While all the signs point to Sinner being able to achieve similar, at the moment it is important to remember we are only talking about promise, and Djokovic is unlikely to ‘fear’ that.

What we do know, though, is that Novak Djokovic respects Sinner already.

“He needs to keep going because he’s definitely on the right path,” Djokovic said of the Italian at the ATP Finals.

“I’m not the only one who is saying he can win slams and be No. 1 in the world. I would be very surprised if that doesn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s next year or the year to come. He’s 22. He has a lot of time ahead of him.”

READ NEXT: Jannik Sinner: Three stats that prove Italian on cusp of major breakthrough

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.