Jannik Sinner, the rising star who stands in Alex de Minaur's way at the Australian Open, could soon have John McEnroe helping guide his meteoric path.
The 20-year-old Italian, hailed as a "beautiful" player by McEnroe, is anticipating a magnificent, athletic last-16 clash with Australia's No.1 on Monday, as both men seek to make it to the second grand slam quarter-finals of their burgeoning careers.
The progress of the pale, gangly Sinner, the so-called "ginger spider" who's already scuttled past the 22-year-old de Minaur and into the top 10, has captured the imagination of triple Wimbledon champ McEnroe.
Asked whether he would like to coach the youngster, whose slight frame masks remarkable power honed by exquisite timing, McEnroe told Eurosport he'd been keen to join the youngster's team in an advisory capacity.
"I am definitely available on a part-time basis to help Jannik Sinner. I told (his coach) Riccardo Piatti I could save him some time if he wanted his beautiful Italian player to step up," said the 62-year-old McEnroe.
"Jannik came and saw me at my club at the US Open last year when he was practising and he's really a sponge (for information)."
It appears that 'Supermac's' overtures may have already worked their wiles as Sinner responded when asked if he'd like the American to join forces: "Yes, when John speaks, we all know that he is a legend and, therefore, yes. Let's see what comes out of this."
McEnroe accepts that, with or without his help, Sinner is destined for great things and de Minaur already knows all about the threat the world No.10 poses.
"I hit with Jannik in Sydney," said de Minaur, the world No.42 who's climbing back up the rankings again after hitting a career-best 15 last year only for COVID-19 to stop him in his tracks.
"I've hit with him a lot. I've played him. I know what's coming - immense firepower. I'm going to have to be ready to not get bullied around the court and really take it to him."
Their two previous meetings don't bode that well for de Minaur with Sinner having beaten him for the Next Gen ATP crown in 2019 and then in the quarter-final of the Bulgarian Open the following year.
The Italian is unbeaten for the year, having won all his matches at the ATP Cup and then raced through to his last-16 clash with de Minaur for the loss of just one set.
Australian Associated Press