Sinner, Fritz Ease To Opening Wins In Miami
Is Jannik Sinner set for another deep run at the Miami Open presented by Itau?
After surging to the final on his event debut in 2021 and reaching the quarter-finals last year, the 21-year-old Italian kick-started his 2023 campaign on Friday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Laslo Djere.
Although Sinner struggled to find his best level at times during his 84-minute triumph at the ATP Masters 1000 event, the 10th seed’s sharp returning proved enough to move past the World No. 58 Djere. Sinner converted five of 10 break points to improve his season record against opponents outside the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to 13-0.
It was Djere who forged the first break of the match in the seventh game on Court Butch Buchholz, but Sinner responded in style with some trademark clean hitting off both wings. The Italian reeled off six games in a row from 3-4 to take charge of the second-round clash, and another three-game streak from 3-2 in the second set sealed his win.
Sinner and Djere are now split at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series. The Italian has won both meetings on hard courts, while Serbia’s Djere has prevailed twice on clay.
The seven-time tour-level titlist Sinner, who fell to Hubert Hurkacz in the 2021 Miami final and reached the semi-finals in Indian Wells last week, is chasing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami. He now holds a 9-2 record at Hard Rock Stadium, where his third-round opponent will be 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov or qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.
The No. 1-ranked American Taylor Fritz also put together a big mid-match streak en route to a 6-4, 6-1 win against his countryman Emilio Nava. The ninth seed reeled off seven games in a row from 4-4 in the first set to take control of his meeting with 21-year-old Nava, who had beaten former Miami champion John Isner for just his second tour-level win in the first round.
The one-sided scoreline masked some early difficulties for Fritz, who was broken in the opening game as Nava’s ultra-aggressive tactics initially paid dividends on Hard Rock Stadium. Fritz, who reached the fourth round in Miami in 2021 and 2022, reclaimed the break in the next game and then effectively adjusted his tactics to accelerate to a 60-minute triumph.
“He was basically going either clean winner or miss,” said Fritz when asked about Nava’s fast start. “It didn’t rally matter what shot I hit, so I felt like I just had to put as many balls in the court as possible and just hope that later on in the set, applying pressure at 5-4 up or if it were to go to 6-5, that he wouldn’t be able to just keep hitting winners.”
Cruise control 🛳@Taylor_Fritz97 dictating with pinpoint precision @MiamiOpen | #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/F8MtOYXwi9— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 24, 2023
Fritz is chasing his second ATP Masters 1000 title. The 2022 BNP Paribas Open champion fell at the quarter-final stage in his Indian Wells title defence last week, but says he is feeling the same sort of pressure to perform in Miami despite never having lifted the trophy there.
“The way I am looking at it, it is just the race,” said Fritz, who broke the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in 2022 and made his debut at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals last November. “Last week, this week, it’s the same importance as far as what it’s going to do for the rankings. I definitely feel good about how I played [today], so that helps a lot.”
The 25-year-old Fritz faces another North American, Denis Shapovalov, in the third round in Florida. Canada’s Shapovalov, who defeated Guido Pella 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 earlier on Friday, leads Fritz 5-3 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.