Sinner Reaches First Rome QF
Ruud battles past Brooksby
Jannik Sinner secured his best Rome result in his fourth appearance at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia with a battling win over Filip Krajinovic on Thursday. The Italian was cruising toward a straightforward victory, up a set and a break on Centre Court, but was made to work for a 6-2, 7-6(6) result to advance to his first quarter-final at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
Krajinovic was firmly on top in the second set after falling behind 0-2, but could not find a second break to complement his three love holds in the stanza. In the tie-break, Sinner surrendered a 4/1 lead but escaped in straight sets on his second match point.
The Italian advanced to his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final, a stage he's twice reached at the Grand Slam level at Roland Garros in 2020 and this season at the Australian Open. His Rome run secured his fifth tour-level quarter-final of the season. If Sinner is to get beyond that stage for the first time this year, he'll have to knock off Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday after the Greek downed Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3.
Sinner dominated the opening set against Krajinovic, who was seeking his third Masters 1000 quarter-final, but the 10th seed's struggles on first serve left the door open for Krajinovic in the second. The Serbian grew into the match after his first break and threatened throughout the second stanza with consistent, deep groundstrokes.
With the help of the Italian crowd, Sinner held on to force a tie-break without facing another break point, then capitalised on some untimely errors from the Serbian to advance in straights despite a sub-50 per cent first serve percentage in the set.
His quarter-final matchup against Tsitsipas will be the pair's fifth ATP Head2Head meeting, with the Greek leading 3-1. They split second-round meetings in Rome in 2019 and 2020 before Tsitsipas dominated their more recent matchups in Barcelona last season and at the Aussie Open earlier this year.
After Sinner moved up to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings with his Rome run, he can rise to No. 11 by reaching the semis and as high as No. 7 with the title.
On Pietrangeli, fifth seed Casper Ruud came through his first encounter with rising American Jenson Brooksby. The 2020 Rome semi-finalist is into his eighth Masters 1000 quarter-final after an entertaining 6-3, 6-4 victory.
The 21-year-old Brooksby, making his Rome debut, earned his first tour-level clay-court wins this week to reach the last 16 but fell short of what would have been his second-best win by the Pepperstone ATP Rankings against the Norwegian World No. 10.
Ruud won the opening set on his fourth set point, saving two break points as he served it out. He did not face a break point in the second despite being pushed to 30/30 on three occasions. In the face of Brooksby's unique shotmaking, the 23-year-old was able to control enough of the rallies to escape unscathed in one hour and 36 minutes. Ruud hit five aces and won 86 per cent (36/42) of his first-serve points in the contest.
Seeking his second title of the season after a Buenos Aires triumph in February, he now awaits the winner of the Centre Court evening matchup between defending champion Rafael Nadal and Denis Shapovalov.
Ruud is rounding back into form after 4-4 start to the European clay swing prior to Rome, which included a 1-2 mark at the Masters 1000s in Monte Carlo and Madrid. He reached the semi-finals at both those events last season, compiling 11 clay victories leading into Rome, though he did not compete in the Italian capital.