Sinner Sets All-Italian Matchup vs. Fognini In Rome

10th seed tops Martinez to improve to 7-0 in first-round matches this season

Jannik Sinner provided the evening entertainment at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Tuesday, sending the Italian fans home happy after his 6-4, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez. The San Candido native started strongly in Rome, firing 26 winners — including 15 off the forehand — as he opened his bid to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in the Italian capital.

"Very pleased obviously," he said of the result. "It was a very warm welcome from all of them. It's an incredible feeling playing here in Rome with a lot of crowds.

"I can be happy. I can do better for sure, so let's see how it goes."

The 20-year-old won the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals on home soil in Milan in 2019, but has been as far the last 16 just once in three previous Rome appearances. He has reached the quarter-final stage in four of his six ATP Tour events this season, including at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Monte Carlo, and the Australian Open.

With Martinez entering Rome Masters 1000 at a career-high of No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the Spaniard provided a tough opening test for his 10th-seeded opponent in the first meeting between the pair. But Sinner, who improved to 7-0 in first-round matches on the season, rose to the challenge with the support of a packed Centre Court crowd.

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The Italian stormed out of the gates by winning the first seven points of the match on the way to a 3-0 lead. Though he missed out on a chance to serve out the opening set, Sinner immediately rebounded by getting back to the heavy hitting that gave him the lead in the first place. Pinning Martinez behind the baseline, he sealed the set with his second break, firing winners off both baseline wings on the last two points.

There was little Martinez could do as Sinner again raced to a 3-0 lead in set two with more bruising baseline play. He saved the only break point he faced in the second and closed the match with his fourth ace after one hour and 24 minutes.

The home favourite dominated the Balance of Power in the match, playing 26 per cent of his shots from attacking positions compared to 17 per cent for Martinez.

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Sinner will next face countryman Fabio Fognini Wednesday evening in the second round. Fognini beat Dominic Thiem on Monday and is two wins away from his 400th tour-level victory. The Centre Court headliner will be the pair's first ATP Head2Head meeting.

"I got to know him a little bit more in Davis Cup," Sinner said of Fognini. "He gave me many, many things, some energy, because it was not easy for me for the first time last year in Turin. For sure now it's going to be tough for me, for him. It's going to be a packed house. But I [will] just enjoy it. Hopefully it's going to be a great match.

"I hope [the crowd support] will be equal. Because he made a lot of history, especially here. And I start now, so it's a little bit another generation."

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