© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Jannik Sinner rides his wild card all the way to the title at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

Sinner Stuns De Minaur For Milan Title

Teen completes dream run from wild card to champion

Jannik Sinner’s performance on Saturday in the Next Gen ATP Finals title match made it clear that the future is now. The Italian completed a dream run from wild card to champion, delighting the Milan crowd with a 4-2, 4-1, 4-2 victory over top-seeded Aussie Alex de Minaur.

Sinner’s win over De Minaur is his second Top 20 victory of the season, having also defeated Gael Monfils last month in Antwerp. He saved all nine break points he faced while breaking the Aussie three times, once per set.

“I don’t have words,” Sinner said. “He’s an unbelievable player. I just tried to play my game and not make any errors. I didn’t make many today, so I’m very happy with my performance.

“The week has been unbelievable. The crowd... You can hear them now. I’m very happy... I wouldn't be here without the wild card, so thanks to everyone. I hope to be back here next year." 

Sinner won a pair of ATP Challenger Tour titles this year in Bergamo and Lexington, but his title in Milan is the highlight of a breakout season. The 18-year-old jumped more than 450 spots in the ATP Rankings this year to his current standing of No. 95, making him the youngest player inside the Top 100. Sinner reached his maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Antwerp, scored his first ATP Masters 1000 victory in Rome and qualified for his first Grand Slam main draw at the US Open, where he pushed three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka to four sets.

The Italian joins South Korean Hyeon Chung (2017) and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (2018) as the champions at this event. Both Tsitsipas and Chung recorded their maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open two months after capturing their respective Milan titles.

De Minaur drops to 8-2 in Milan, reaching the final here in both of his appearances (also 2018). The 20-year-old arrived in Milan at a career-high of No. 18 in the ATP Rankings after capturing his first three ATP Tour titles in Sydney (d. Seppi), Atlanta (d. Fritz) and Zhuhai (d. Mannarino). He also reached the final two weeks ago in Basel (l. to Federer).

”It’s been a great week. Jannik was too good,” De Minaur said. “I’m happy with my year and looking forward to next year.” 

Both players saved a pair of break points in their opening service games, but the Italian had the upper hand from the onset in the baseline rallies. Sinner’s strong serving allowed him to gamble during his return games. The wild card cracked a 158 kmh forehand return to earn set point at 3-2 and converted with an aggressive backhand return.

The wild card rode that momentum in the second set and broke De Minaur to love for a 2-0 lead. Sinner’s mental toughness was on display as he delivered his best tennis in critical moments. He won all three of his service games in the set on deciding points, launching an unreturned serve at 2-0 and forehand winner at 3-1 to take a commanding advantage.

De Minaur played solid tennis and only made 10 errors on the night, but Sinner created his own opportunities. A big backhand at 1-1 in the third set gave him another break and he maintained the slight advantage. Sinner raised his arms in delight after a backhand error from the Aussie wrapped up play after 64 minutes.

Sinner earned $372,000 for his title run, surpassing his career earnings of $274,470 entering Milan. De Minaur walked away with $295,000.