Meet Jannik Sinner, the Gucci model targeting a Wimbledon final

new balance


Son of a chef and a waitress, it would be assumed that the one thing Jannik Sinner must be able to do well is cook.

‘I can cook to survive,’ he once joked to Interview Magazine. The cooking, he suggests, is for the rest of his family to work out.

But Sinner is talented at many things. 

The Italian polygot is a top 10 tennis player, was a former skiing champion as a junior, is a successful model with Gucci and even has his own dedicated ‘Carota Boys’ fan club.

One thing he has yet to do, still in the infancy of his career at 21, is find his way to a Grand Slam final. Today he has that very chance – albeit against the men’s game’s greatest ever player in Novak Djokovic.

Gucci ambassador Jannik Sinner is turning heads on and off the tennis court right now

Gucci ambassador Jannik Sinner is turning heads on and off the tennis court right now

The Italian No 1 is on the cusp of reaching the first Wimbledon final of his tennis career

The Italian No 1 is on the cusp of reaching the first Wimbledon final of his tennis career

He has come from humble beginnings in Italy, having moved away from home at the age of 13

He has come from humble beginnings in Italy, having moved away from home at the age of 13

It is difficult to portray Sinner as an unknown quantity when he is, alongside world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz, the poster boy for the ‘next generation’. 

Born in August 2001 in San Candido, a small town in northern Italy near to the Austrian border, Sinner grew up in humble surroundings with parents Hanspeter and Siglinde.

He has a brother, Mark, but details about the family are scarce. They are rarely seen at his matches and his social media is dominated by endorsement deals and professional images from on court. 

Sinner shared a rare photo of him and his brother in 2019 but fans find the dynamics of the family mysterious, although they are widely viewed as hard-working with strong moral values. 

Sinner, who now lives in Monte-Carlo, adopts a similarly private relationship with his girlfriend,  Maria Braccini.

The model, who has 103,000 followers on her private Instagram page, has been described as ‘introverted’ and ‘fiercely private’, often keeping a low profile around the bright lights of Sinner’s burgeoning career.

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Braccini is at Wimbledon but has so far managed to evade the cameras, something Sinner seems happy with.

But back to Sinner’s early life and things could have turned out so differently had patience been applied to his skiing career.

Given the area where he grew up, everybody skiied. That was just how it was.

‘Skiing is quite a common sport to get into from where I am. There are a lot of ski slopes just literally outside of my front door,’ Sinner once told ATPTour.com. 

Sinner was originally a star in skiing, but at 13 elected to commit totally to playing tennis

Sinner was originally a star in skiing, but at 13 elected to commit totally to playing tennis

He has proven to be a heart-throb off the court, securing lots of endorsment deals

He has proven to be a heart-throb off the court, securing lots of endorsment deals

Gucci are one of the biggest brands that the top 10 player has worked with in recent years

Gucci are one of the biggest brands that the top 10 player has worked with in recent years

Here is Sinner pictured in one of Gucci's campaigns, as shared across his Instagram page

Here is Sinner pictured in one of Gucci’s campaigns, as shared across his Instagram page

‘I remember the first time I went skiing. My brother was having some lessons and I saw him and I wanted to go but my mum told me “Not today”.

‘I kept crying to her and asking and then she said “OK, let’s do this”. They were expecting me to go once and then I would go home. But I stayed all day until they closed the slopes. Then I went every day and loved it.’

Sinner was a natural, far superior to many kids his age, and soon he was established as one of the best junior skiers in Italy.

Skiing was No 1. Football was No 2. Tennis was No 3.

Trophies soon came rolling in, competition after competition, but at 13 Sinner, who by this point had dropped football, began to feel physically inferior on the slopes.

‘One year I won many trophies when skiing, but then the year after I felt that physically, the others were so much stronger,’ he added. 

‘I went out twice and didn’t feel comfortable anymore. I really loved playing tennis because everything was from my side. I had my head under control, which in skiing is very tough.’

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One of his early ski coaches hailed his ‘mountain mentality’ that he has since been able to take into tennis. But now, he was all in on tennis. 

Sinner has one brother, Mark (right), but the tennis star likes to keep his family life private

Sinner has one brother, Mark (right), but the tennis star likes to keep his family life private

He has a dedicated fan club called The Carota Boys, who are back in Italy watching his run

He has a dedicated fan club called The Carota Boys, who are back in Italy watching his run

Sinner, wise beyond his years, elected to leave home at 13 to really make a success of tennis. Leaving friends and family behind, he departed determined to make it pro.

‘When I left home at 13, I dreamed of becoming a professional. Seven years later, I am in the top ten,’ he reflected back in 2021. 

Riccardo Piatti’s academy in Bordighera, Italy, was where Sinner would end up and there relationship was almost paternal in nature. 

Claudio Pistolesi, the 1985 junior World No. 1, once told ATPTour.com that Sinner’s unconventional route to the Tour, via the ski slopes, has helped – not hindered – him.

‘Like Lorenzo Sonego, who played football until the age of 14, he has broken all the rules that you follow from an academy perspective, having done another sport to a good level,’ said Pistolesi. ‘He brings some lateral skills to tennis from skiing in his movement around the tennis court, and he steps into the ball automatically.’

His rise has continued to where The Association of Tennis Professionals named him Newcomer of the Year in 2019, before he became the first player born in the 2000s to break the top 10 in 2021.

To date, a Wimbledon semi-final is Sinner’s best ever Grand Slam return. It could – and probably should – have come 12 months ago when he was two sets up on Djokovic, only to stumble and lose in five sets.

Working with Darren Cahill, who used to coach Simona Halep, has elevated his game, unquestionably. Getting over his quarter-final hump is proof of as much.

‘For sure physically I have improved. I’m much stronger,” Sinner said after reaching the semi-finals this week. 

‘I can stay on court for many hours without suffering. Also mentally you’re going in a slightly different mental side on court knowing you are also Top 10 player. It is a little bit different. You might go as a favourite most of the time on the court until certain rounds of the tournament.

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‘Also this is different. I think game-wise or tennis-wise I feel better. If I have to play the slice, I can play now without thinking. Before [it] was always a little bit different. I can go to the net knowing that I have good volleys. I have some good things now in my game and hopefully I can use it in the right way.’

But Sinner, nicknamed ‘The Fox’, is a new man on and off the court now. He is an emerging face of tennis, with his inclusion at the front of Wimbledon’s 2023 poster causing uproar among Andy Murray’s family. 

Sinner made a bold fashion choice for his opening Wimbledon match as he walked out onto Centre Court with a luxury custom Gucci duffel bag

Sinner made a bold fashion choice for his opening Wimbledon match as he walked out onto Centre Court with a luxury custom Gucci duffel bag 

It is the first time that a player has wore a luxury bag out onto Centre Court at Wimbledon

It is the first time that a player has wore a luxury bag out onto Centre Court at Wimbledon

A brand ambassador for Gucci, who recently caused a stir at Wimbledon with a striking personalised walk-on bag for one of Sinner’s matches, the Italian is also endorsed by Nike, Head, Rolex, Gucci, Lavazza, Alfa Romeo, Technogym, Parmigiano Reggiano.

Not a big drinker of alcohol and instead preferring to wind down with Coca-Cola, the Italian, German and English speaker is incredibly likeable, lacking the brashness of a Daniil Medvedev or a Djokovic. 

His popularity saw him generate a fan club – named the Carota Boys – who have 17,000 followers on Instagram,

Huddled together in carrot costumes in a living room back in Italy, Sinner is missing them at Wimbledon, but having gone viral, it is another amusing quirk to the growing mania around the former ski star.  

But now Sinner has a chance to take himself from the praises of the tennis cognoscenti – and the love of men dressed as carrots – to cracking the mainstream with a Wimbledon final up for grabs. 

new balance



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