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Jannik Sinner and the international language of tennis

Apr 05, 2024 03:33 PM IST

With Jannik ‘Forza’ Sinner winning the recent Miami Open, a look at some of the game’s multi-lingual cheers.

‘Italians Do It Better’. In the dear departed 1980s, that was the line on a black t-shirt which pop icon and provocateur Madonna once wore.

Jannik Sinner sure gets the fans to cheer him on in more ways than one(USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)
Jannik Sinner sure gets the fans to cheer him on in more ways than one(USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

These days a men’s tennis player can carry off that shirt (in the sports context). Jannik Sinner is Italian and he is doing it better. After a big breakthrough at the Australian Open, Sinner recently won the Miami Open. He is now 22 wins in 23 matches in 2024. His victims include one Novak Djokovic, that too in the best-of-five format.

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Every time a star emerges, native phrases they or their fans use become popular. Here are some multi-lingual expressions associated with the big names of men’s tennis.

Forza (Jannik Sinner): Leave the typical Italian histrionics to Fabio Fognini. Sinner conducts himself with yogic equanimity. Fans, however, don’t need to keep emotions under check. Sinnerheads support their boy with “Forza!” which translates to “force” or “come on”, or “Vai Jannik!” (Go Jannik). On occasion, their cheers get more dramatic (they are Italian after all). “Facci sognare” (let us dream), said some placards for Sinner at the 2023 ATP Finals in Turin.

Idemo (Novak Djokovic): For close to two decades the words “Idemo Nole!” have rung out at tennis arenas, Nole of course being Djokovic’s nickname. The Serb also gets himself going with “Hajde!” Both “Idemo” and “Hajde” are Serbo-Croat expressions, and mean “come on” and “let’s go”, respectively. Not what Goran Ivanisevic is likely to say these days.

Vamos (Rafael Nadal): The thousands of gladiatorial points Nadal has played over his career have often been celebrated with a snarling “Vamos!”, Spanish for “come on”. Signs saying “Vamos Rafa!” have been a regular sight in stands around the world. Occasionally, Nadal squeaks out a “come on” in English, but “Vamos” is his second name, matching Nadal in provenance and personality.

Chum Jetze (Roger Federer): Well into retirement, Federer is still the winner of the most career titles among the Big Three. His legacy, however, is not so much stats. Many of those have been bettered by Djokovic and some by Nadal. Federer’s chief identity is that of an aesthetic warrior, who produced heavy artillery with goose-bumps inducing beauty, a Rolls Royce in a sea of grey battle tanks. And when he roared “Chum jetze!”, Swiss-German for ‘come on now’, the experience of watching him would become even more exciting.

Let’s go (Andy Murray): The valiant Scot does not get enough credit for winning three majors, two Olympic singles golds and reaching world No. 1 in the era of the Big Three. Possessing an all-round game and the physicality to chase the ball all day, Murray has been one of the gutsiest competitors in the sport. “Let’s go!”, Sir Andy’s war cry of choice, has often adrenalized his spirits and those of his supporters.

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