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Jannik Sinner defeats Steve Johnson on Thursday in Melbourne.

Sinner Puts Foot Down To Reach R3

Italian next plays Daniel

Jannik Sinner maintained his perfect start to the season Thursday, cruising past American Steve Johnson 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round at the Australian Open for the first time.

The 11th seed is making his third appearance in Melbourne and backed up his first-round win against Joao Sousa with a solid display against Johnson, firing 29 winners and breaking five times to advance after one hour and 43 minutes.

”It is a real pleasure playing here,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “I played on this court against Shapo [Denis Shapovalov] in the first-round last year, so it is a special feeling coming back here. Thanks for staying out. I like playing here in Australia, so having a night match is very special.”

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Following his efficient victory, the Italian is now 5-0 on the year, having recorded three ATP Cup wins earlier this month. He will next play Taro Daniel after the Japanese qualifier upset former World No. 1 Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“I started the match very well, which gave me a lot of confidence,” Sinner added. “When I had to break in every set, I was quite relaxed. I tried to stay focused on my service games which I think I have done. I am very happy to be through in three sets.”

Sinner enjoyed a standout 2021 season, winning four tour-level titles as he rose from No. 37 in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 9 in November. The 20-year-old, whose best Grand Slam performance was a run to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2020, now leads Johnson 3-0 in their ATPHead2Head series.

The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion made a fast start on Margaret Court Arena, racing into a 4-0 lead as Johnson struggled to deal with Sinner’s flat groundstrokes. The 20-year-old, who hugged the baseline throughout to dictate play, closed out the opener on his first set point and then claimed the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set to seize further control.

Sinner continued to exert relentless pressure on Johnson in the third set in a blink-and-you-would miss-it win, committing just five unforced errors in the set to move through.

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