© @Sofia Open/Lap.bg

Jannik Sinner is the defending champion of the Sofia Open.

Sinner Sees Off Gerasimov Challenge In Sofia

Defending champion to next face Duckworth

Jannik Sinner began his title defence of the Sofia Open on Thursday by defeating qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6-2, 7-6(3) to advance to the quarter-finals.

Sinner, currently 11th in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin, is chasing points this week in a bid to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held on home soil. The Italian now boasts a 34-17 record in 2021, bouncing back from a four-match losing streak by winning 10 of his past 13 matches, which included a title in Washington.

"I think this year what I have done was good, with some ups and downs," said Sinner. "Every week when I play it's trying to understand something new, trying to learn something new."

Watch Thursday Sofia Highlights:

Sinner won on his third match point, after Gerasimov saved two in the previous game. He improves his ATPHead2Head lead over the 28-year-old Belarusian to 2-0, having won their previous encounter earlier this year in Barcelona.

The 20-year-old was clinical on serve, winning 81 per cent of first-serve points and saving seven of the eight break points he faced. Gerasimov gained his lone break to lead 5-4 and serve for the second set, but Sinner broke straight back and took the set in a tie-break.

The Italian won his maiden ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open in 2020, where he beat Vasek Pospisil in a three-set thriller to lift the trophy.

Up next for Sinner in his effort to retain the title is the in-form Australian James Duckworth, who defeated Benoit Paire earlier Thursday 6-4, 6-4. The ATPHead2Head between the two stands at 1-1, with Duckworth defeating Sinner in straight sets in their most-recent meeting in Toronto.

"I'm trying to play my best tennis," Sinner said. "Obviously it's not going to be easy, but I'm very happy to be back here."

More stories like this in: