Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner has found himself at the centre of a bizarre backlash just hours after lifting the trophy in Melbourne.
The 22-year-old won his first grand slam title on Sunday night and promptly made the deserved call to give himself more time to celebrate and recuperate, pulling out of next week’s ATP 250 tournament in Marseille.
He was due to enter not only as the year’s first major champion but as the top seed.
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And so the first reports that he had decided not to appear struck a nerve at tournament headquarters.
“Sinner 😵 snub,” the Open 13 Provence’s official account wrote on X (formerly Twitter).
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Criticism for the post followed and it was promptly deleted, swapped out for an identical version that changed ‘snub’ to ‘withdraw’.
“Indeed the word is strong, we are going to change. In Marseille we tend to get fired up,” the tournament wrote in French.
The revised post on Facebook swapped out the 😵 emoji to 😤 as fans on Facebook also took issue with officials’ frustations.
The Open 13 tournament deleted ‘snub’ in favour of ‘withdraw’. Credit: X (formerly Twitter)
Open 13 organisers, who hid some critical replies, blamed the harsh tone towards Sinner on a newspaper article that revealed the news and apologised further.
“Far be it from me to offend anyone, much less our community,” they wrote.
But the whole saga left a sour taste in the mouths of tennis fans, even the toned-down post catching the eye of prominent tennis reporter Jose Morgado.
“Oh boy, this kind of reaction from an official account…” he said.
The original post included the revelation that Open 13 organisers had opened talks with Australian Open semi-finalist Alexander Zverev to take Sinner’s spot in the draw.
It’s the second straight year Sinner will not take the court in Marseille.
In 2023 he reached the fourth round of the Australian Open then, after a week off, won a title in Montpellier and reach a final in Rotterdam.
He was due to play in Marseille the very next week, as the No.2 seed, but fell ill and was unable to recover in time to play a match, withdrawing after the tournament began.
Sinner, meanwhile, is now set to resume his 2024 campaign in Rotterdam in two weeks’ time — on another collision course with Daniil Medvedev.
The Australian Open finalists could play off for another title in February. Credit: AP
The Australian Open finalists will be the top two seeds in the draw if they both remain in the draw.
They played off for the championship in Rotterdam last year, Medvedev winning 5-7 6-2 6-2 against the then unseeded Sinner.
Sinner also lost to Medvedev in the Miami final in March last year but has now recorded four straight wins — three coming in tournament finals — over his rival.
The Italian is 10-1 in his last 11 matches against top-five players, prompting the idea that he has already emerged as the new leading light.
“That’s why we have rankings in tennis,” Medvedev said.
“This tournament he was the best player in the world, and that’s why he won this slam. Right now he’s No.1 in the race.
“He continues playing like this, continues winning tournaments like this, he’s going to be No.1 in the world at one moment.
“But we never know what can happen. Many, many things can happen in the tennis career. That’s why I think tennis is a beautiful sport because you cannot look in the future.”
Other stars in the Rotterdam draw include world No.5 Andrey Rublev, world No.7 Holger Rune, world No.8 Hubert Hurkacz, Australia’s world No.11 Alex de Minaur and world No.13 Grigor Dimitrov.
De Minaur enjoyed a week off after the Australian Open and flew out of the country on Monday night.