Altmaier Saves 2 MPs To Stun Sinner At Roland Garros
Daniel Altmaier sprung a second-round upset of Jannik Sinner in dramatic fashion on Thursday at Roland Garros, where the World No. 79 came back from the brink to secure a 6-7(0), 7-6(7), 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-5 marathon victory.
Altmaier saved two match points on Sinner’s serve at 4-5 in the fourth set on Court Suzanne-Lenglen and then held his nerve impressively to triumph in a remarkable decider. Despite failing to serve out the match at 5-4 and Sinner saving four match points in a nail-biting final game, the 24-year-old German dug deep to earn a five-hour, 26-minute victory and reach the third round at the clay-court major for the second time.
“Playing every point you can with the best effort, that’s what keeps you in reality,” said Altmaier, when asked how he had kept his cool to save Sinner’s match points. “I was just thinking that, and the competition says it all. We’ve had historic matches with so many match points… I don’t know if you can call this an ‘historical’ match, but I think it was one to remember.”
After a promising start in which Altmaier split a pair of tie-break sets with Sinner, the German appeared to have run out of steam as the his higher-ranked opponent reeled off five games in a row to charge to the third set. Altmaier’s fourth-set escape act and fifth set heroics demonstrated his high endurance levels, however, as he claimed the first five-set win of his career.
In the longest match at Roland Garros since Lorenzo Giustino's six-hour, five-minute win against Corentin Moutet in 2020, Altmaier went toe to toe with the eighth seed Sinner from the baseline throughout. He delivered a series of spectacular winners with his stylish one-handed backhand and was also clinical at the net, winning 78 per cent (38/49) of points when he moved forward.
Altmaier’s calm under pressure was particularly evident in the final game of the match. Sinner threatened a dramatic comeback after rallying from 0/40 down and, after saving four match points, had three break points to force a deciding-set tie-break. Each time, Altmaier kept the Italian at bay, and he let out a roar after converting his fifth match point for one of the comeback wins of the season so far.
It was a second Top 10 win for Altmaier at Roland Garros, and his second against an Italian from that bracket after he defeated then-World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini en route to the fourth round in 2020. Thursday’s triumph was another notable achievement in an impressive 2023 European clay season for the German, who reached his maiden ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final in Madrid in May.
“In the past months, me and my team have been just putting so much effort in, all together,” said Altmaier of his recent surge. “I can just say to everybody that we play here, but behind us we have such a strong team. That’s why this victory is a team effort.”
With his win, Altmaier avenged his five-set defeat to Sinner in the pair’s only previous ATP Head2Head meeting at the 2022 US Open. His third-round opponent will be 28th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who earlier defeated Emil Ruusuvuori 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4.
Altmaier reached his first ATP Tour quarter-final in 2017 in Antalya as an 18-year-old but a series of injuries hampered his early career. He reached a career-high of No. 53 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in May 2022, but he will rise above that mark should he defeat Dimitrov in the French capital. As things stand, Altmaier sits at No. 56 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings after jumping 23 spots by reaching the third round in Paris.