Alcaraz Dents Sinner's Quest For Nitto ATP Finals Spot
In the first match of what is sure to be a great rivalry, the 18-year-old Spaniard outclassed his fellow #NextGenATP opponent in an intense 7-6(1), 7-5 victory over two hours and eight minutes.
"I'm so happy for this win as Jannik was fighting for a spot at the [Nitto] ATP Finals," said Alcaraz. "It's my third Top 10 win of the year. I think Jannik and I will have a great rivalry in the future... I think that I played really, really aggressive, more than him. I think that was one of the keys."
With Alcaraz’s victory over Sinner, Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz is now up to eighth position — and the final automatic qualification spot — in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin. Hurkacz, who beat qualifier Tommy Paul earlier on Wednesday, is battling to clinch one of the two remaining singles spots up for grabs at the season finale, to be held at the Pala Alpitour from 14-21 November.
Alcaraz, who came into the ATP Masters 1000 tournament on the back of a semi-final run at last week’s Erste Bank Open in Vienna (l. to Zverev), will meet French qualifier Hugo Gaston in the third round. Gaston produced an inspired performance earlier on Wednesday to beat 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5.
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After a nervous start from both players, it was Alcaraz’s consistency that reaped dividends with a strong performance in the first-set tie-break. Sinner twice recovered three break points in the second set — at 1-1 and 2-2 — but the eighth-seeded Italian couldn’t create opportunities on Alcaraz’s serve.
Having come up with big serves earlier in the second set, Sinner’s defences were finally broken at 5-5, 15/40, when the Italian struck a forehand into the net. Alcaraz, who had beaten Sinner 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 as a unranked 15-year-old on his ATP Challenger Tour debut at Alicante in April 2019, coolly closed out his 27th match win of the year (27-16 overall).
"Today was not my day, but I hope we can play some more matches," said Sinner. "I knew that he was going to be top [player] already when I played him in 2019 on the clay on the [ATP] Challenger Tour. Because these kind of players you feel that they have something special, for sure."
Alcaraz recorded his first Top 10 win over No. 3-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the US Open quarter-finals in September and beat World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini in the Vienna quarter-finals last week.
Sinner, who broke into the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time this week, has enjoyed a career-best season with a 45-20 match record and four ATP Tour trophies.