The Greek starts at full speed winning the first two sets 6-4 6-4, Jannik reopens the match by winning the 3rd and 4th 6-4 6-3. Then a fatal break in the deciding set. For Greek now there is Lehecka
And no. The final exam is not passed. Jannik Sinner surrenders again to Stefanos Tsitsipas and perhaps it hurts even more. Because if there was no story last year, this year was an almost even tug of war. He stops at the fifth Jannik 6-4 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-3 in four hours. A different defeat from the one that in 2022 had convinced Jannik to change coach from Riccardo Piatti to Simone Vagnozzi, then joined by Darren Cahill. Compared to last year, when Jannik left the field defeated also mentally, as well as on the field, Sinner had the fora to get up from 2-0 and take the game to the fifth and the unexploited break opportunities were many (4 on 26) unlike last year, when he hadn’t even had one. Coach Vagnozzi talks about long-term work, which will bear fruit in two or three years, that Jannik has more weapons in his arsenal, that one must have confidence in the path.
And if the bitterness for the defeat is great, almost as much as that of New York against Alcaraz, it is also true that Jannik has taken a step forward above all from a physical point of view, holding up well the marathon which in the end was played on just a few points. But there are many regrets. And the 2003 class of Alcaraz and Rune runs fast, winning Slam and Masters 1000, blowing on Sinner’s neck. Now for Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is still hunting for the first Grand Slam which in this case would also be worth the number 1, an unprecedented opponent, Jiri Lehecka, Next Gen finalist in November in Milan and author of the elimination of Felix Auger Aliassime.
The first set opens with a freezing shower: an opening break from the Greek who flies 2-0. Sinner continues to make forehand errors and the serve is not too effective, just an ace. Stefanos, however, gave something away and in the eighth game Jannik came back from behind. But it is an ephemeral joy, the number 4 in the world moves forward again with another break and goes to serve for the set at 5-4, closing the first set 6-4. In the second set, Vagnozzi’s pupil is more centered, his service percentages are better, there are fewer mistakes, yet Stefanos breaks in the 3rd game. With a header Sinner reverses course and immediately recovers the disadvantage. Each one proceeds with his own service up to a fatal, bloody, zero break by Tsitsi who extends 5-4 and serves for the second set. Practically a match point. However, the Greek is less surgical, he concedes something and Jannik has the illusion of a counterbreak but the set point belongs to Tsitsipas. The South Tyrolean cancels it, but the Greek is once again impeccable who goes on 2 sets 0. In the third, Vagnozzi’s pupil must immediately save himself from the onslaught of his rival, holds the serve and even has 4 break points in the second. But it is unrecognizable when it comes to making them, it lacks precision, malice. A trait of Jannik’s character that we didn’t know about. He tries again in the 4th game, and this time thanks also to a drop from his rival he extends 3-1 and then 4-1. Something is moving, a bit like in the match against Fucsovics, the rival drops and Jannik levels up, approaching the original Sinner.
The original Sinner continues to grow, to the point of having four set points at 5-2 with Tsitsipas serving. He still doesn’t exploit them with too many mistakes, with a disturbing percentage of 3 break points converted out of 18, but when it’s time to serve at 5-3 he doesn’t lose focus, with three aces he seals the 6-3 and reopens the game. Tsitsipas is not Fucsovics, but a comeback seems possible. Tsitsipas starts with zero service, Sinner responds in the same way: 1-1. In the third game, a winning backhand return for Jannik who is finally more proactive and wins a very delicate breakpoint in the third game. Many mistakes for Tsitsipas, the Greek has a mainly physical decline. But Jannik’s long-line idea dies out on the network. It doesn’t matter, there is a second chance, many trains pass in this match for Sinner who has perhaps learned to catch them on the fly. break! And 2-1. Tsitsi risks the double break in the 5th game, and again in the 7th. But when Jannik goes to serve to take the game to the fifth, the toy jams, a double fault brings the Greek up 30-30. But Jannik closes and takes the game to the fifth. A freezing shower in the 4th game with three break points granted to the Greek, practically a match point. Five points in a row and a forehand winner to make it 2-2. A truly miraculous save which however fails in the sixth, when the Greek extends 4-2 and confirms for 5-2. It closes 6-3: the Greek is in the quarterfinals, Sinner goes home.
January 22, 2023 (change January 22, 2023 | 1:31 pm)
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