Tuesday Preview: Tiafoe Battles Sinner In Antwerp Rematch
Twelve months ago, Jannik Sinner was watching the Next Gen ATP Finals from the stands. This year, he’s playing in them. The 18-year-old Italian will take part in the night session against second-seeded American Frances Tiafoe in Group B action.
Sinner defeated Tiafoe in their only previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting three weeks ago in Antwerp. The victory was especially poignant because Sinner took in last year’s event in Milan specifically to see “how the players like Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe are playing, especially in the important points".
The Italian’s rise up the ATP Rankings is the most pronounced of anyone in the draw. He began this season at No. 551, but is now the youngest player inside the Top 100. His breakout year has included a maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Antwerp, first ATP Masters 1000 main draw win in Rome and a pair of ATP Challenger Tour titles.
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Tiafoe started his season on a high by reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open and advancing to the last eight in Miami, but admitted struggling to handle the expectations that came with those results. The 21-year-old has bounced back in recent weeks, recording another quarter-final in Antwerp. He is now embracing the pressure that comes with being one of the rising stars in tennis.
”I think it’s a privilege to have pressure, to be in a unique position,” Tiafoe said. “To play on a big stage with high stakes, you could be in a much worse situation.”
Group B competitors Mikael Ymer of Sweden and Ugo Humbert of France will also square off in the evening session. Both men have excelled indoors in recent weeks, with Humbert advancing to the semi-finals in Antwerp and Ymer scoring back-to-back ATP Challenger Tour crowns in Orleans and Mouilleron le Captif.