Jannik Sinner saves three deputies and survives the duel of Tommy Paul in Madrid | ATP tour
Jannik Sinner claimed victory at the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday, but the 10th seed had to come back from the brink against Tommy Paul at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
Paul dropped two match points as he served for the match at 5-3 in the second set and another at 6-5 on Sinner’s serve in the Spanish capital. The Italian raised his level at crucial moments to bounce back for a dramatic three-hour 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 6-3 victory.
Sinner now has a best four ATP Tour wins over the 2022 season after saving match points.
“It was a very difficult situation, of course,” Sinner said after the game. “I was ahead in the first set 5-2, then I lost. He played a really good tie-break. I made a few unforced errors early on, and the second set was kind of a Russian mountains.
“I’m happy to be in the second round here. Obviously it was a tough game, and let’s see how the next game goes.”
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 2, 2022
Sinner is yet to reach a semi-final in 2022 but has shown good form at some of this year’s biggest events, reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the Masters 1000 events in Miami. and Monte Carlo. The Italian hopes his hard-fought victory over Paul can be the catalyst for a deep run at the Caja Magica, where he holds a 1-1 match record.
Things were going well for Sinner early on as he dominated from afar in the opening stages at the Manolo Santana Stadium, but Paul stuck with his opponent admirably. The American began to settle into the pair’s first ATP Head2Head encounter and recovered 2-4 to force a first-set tie-break, which he took comfortably after opening up an unassailable 5/0 lead .
Paul continued to hit the ball cleanly and show imagination going forward, but the momentum of the game changed when the American served at 5-3 in the second. Sinner ripped through a series of searing forehands to recover the break, then fended off another match point to force a tie-break.
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The 20-year-old seemed to have found his range and after claiming the tie-break to level the game he began to find scorching winners on both sides to clinch an intriguing 6-3 encounter in the final set. A powerful serving performance helped the Italian when other parts of his game weren’t shooting – he hit eight aces and won 72% (46/64) of the points after his first delivery, according to Infosys ATP Stats.
“I just try to stay focused on the present moment,” Sinner said when asked how he changed things. “You can’t change anything in the past.
“Right now I’m thinking more about my level, because I don’t think it’s one of my best performances. So I will try to increase it in the next round, but obviously [I’m] happy to have passed because it was a very difficult match, a difficult opponent.
Sinner’s previous wins in 2022 after match point stoppages have come in back-to-back rounds in Miami – where he erased three match points against Emil Ruusuvuori in Round 2 and five against Pablo Carreno Busta in Round 3 – and in the first round in Dubai, where he saved three against Alejandro Davidovitch Fokina.
In Madrid, Sinner now faces a second-round encounter with Alex de Minaur, who previously beat home favorite Pedro Martinez, 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-3. Sinner holds a 3-0 lead in the ATP Head2Head series over the 23-year-old Australian, a record that includes a straight-set victory for the Italian in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.
Alejandro Davidovich Fokina brought his impressive ATP Masters 1000 form to his homeland as the Spaniard brushed past Lloyd Harris with a 7-5, 6-3 first-round win.
The world number 29 has never made it past the second round in Madrid, but is full of confidence after his superb run to a first Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April.
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Davidovich Fokina will be thrilled with how he quashed the Harris threat at Caja Magica. The South African had won the pair’s only previous meeting in straight sets at the 2021 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and looked sharp early on as he forced himself to a break point in the opener at Madrid.
Once the Spaniard managed to hold on, however, he didn’t offer Harris another break point in the game. Davidovich Fokina made his own move against Harris’ delivery breaking late in both sets to secure a 79-minute win over Arantxa Sanchez Stadium.
The Spaniard’s energetic second-round opponent will be qualifier Hugo Dellien or 12th seed Hubert Hurkacz.
Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman advanced to the second round in Madrid for the fifth consecutive year with a 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1 victory over French qualifier Benoit Paire.
The 29-year-old arrived in the Spanish capital after a run to the semi-finals in Barcelona, where he beat Mackenzie McDonald, Lorenzo Musetti and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Schwartzman, who saved both break points he faced in his two-hour-and-six-minute triumph over Paire, will next face former world number 3 Grigor Dimitrov or US qualifier Maxime Cressy.
Italian #NextGenATP star Lorenzo Musetti also advanced on Monday with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Ilya Ivashka. The 20-year-old qualifier recovered from a breakdown in the final set to advance to the second round, where he will face the winner of the All-American match between 15th seed Reilly Opelka and Sebastian Korda. The Italian has picked up two wins in each of his last three events, all on clay.