Sinner Races Away From Alcaraz After Marathon Start In Beijing SFs
Jannik Sinner completed a methodical turnaround against Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday in the China Open semi-finals to become the first player to register four tour-level wins against the Spaniard. With a 7-6(4), 6-1 victory, the Italian improves to 4-3 in the pair's Lexus ATP Head2Head and rises to No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting himself up for a new career high.
Sinner will become the second Italian in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to reach the Top 5, joining Adriano Panatta.
Now 5-3 this season in semi-finals, Sinner will meet Daniil Medvedev in Wednesday's final, when the Italian will bid for his third tour-level singles title of 2023 and his ninth overall. The 22-year-old is 0-6 against Medvedev, including a pair of final defeats this season in Rotterdam and Miami.
Following his second win against Alcaraz in three meetings this season, the Italian talked up the pair's blossoming Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry.
"For sure in the very top [of the big matches I've played]," he said of Tuesday's win. "I would say every match against him is very tough. We always show great respect, we both play great. When we play against each other, we try to stay on our limits.
"Today I played a little bit better in the important moments. In the second set, it was 6-1 but he had a lot of chances and I just tried to stay focussed. And obviously the first set was a little more of a roller coaster and I tried to stay there mentally and obviously I'm very happy with the performance."
Sinner twice trailed by a break in the opening set and fought off two break points to avoid a disaster 0-3 start in Beijing. From midway through the one-hour, 13-minute set, he began to take control of the match with brilliant directional control from the baseline and what finished as a perfect 15-for-15 mark on net points.
After winning a tie-break in which he never trailed, Sinner broke to open set two and then fought off a combined five break points in consecutive service games to build a 3-1 lead. Those battling holds seemed to break Alcaraz's spirit, as Sinner rattled off four games in succession to close out the match. The Italian benefitted from 20 forehand unforced errors from Alcaraz, with that wing beginning to show cracks in the opening tie-break.
"I think the execution went really well," Sinner said of his game plan. "Mostly trying to stay aggressive, because when he has a lot of time he he plays really good and really aggressive."
Alcaraz had not lost a set en route to the semi-finals. He fell to 9-4 against the Top 10 this season with the defeat.
All three of this season's Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings between Sinner and Alcaraz have come in semi-finals, with Alcaraz winning in Indian Wells and Sinner triumphing in Miami.