Sinner Continues His Deep, Successful Run In Toronto

Jannik Sinner (photo: Peter Power/Tennis Canada)

TORONTO/WASHINGTON, August 13, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

If pressure is a privilege, as tennis legend Billie Jean King often said, then Italy’s Jannik Sinner is embracing the Hall of Famer’s wisdom by showing it comes to those who earn it.

On Saturday evening in Toronto, the seventh-seeded Sinner from Italy reached his third ATP Masters 1000 final at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers by holding off No. 12 seed Tommy Paul of the United States, 6-4, 6-4, in one hour and 56 minutes. World No. 8 Sinner needed three match points to put away the World No. 14 Paul from New Jersey.

Sinner overcame 29 unforced errors by hitting 11 winners against Paul. He won 78 percent of his first-serve points, converted 5 of 10 break points and outpointed his opponent 71-63.

The 21-year-old Sinner’s deep run this week in Toronto has seen him score wins over Matteo Berrettini, Andy Murray (by walkover), Gaël Monfils and Paul. It continues the young Italian’s success at the Masters 1000 level, which has included semifinals in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo in addition to reaching the final in Miami. Sinner is now 17-4 this season in Masters 1000 competition.

“It’s always a privilege to stand on such a great court, playing a great match against an incredible opponent,” Sinner said in his on-court post-match interview in describing his admiration for Paul, 26, whom he shared a warm embrace with at the net at the conclusion of their semifinal. “I’m just trying somehow to take any challenge that’s coming. Whether its the 46-ball rally [on break point in the second set] or also when you serve for the match and you get broken, and then after you have to find a solution somehow to win.

“I’m happy about how I reacted to every situation on the court. He played great. He’s a very nice guy. I’m happy to be again in the final and hopefully I can show some good tennis tomorrow.”

De Minaur reaches his first Masters 1000 final

Alex de Minaur played like a man on a mission – and, in a way, he was. The 18th-ranked Australian needed just 78 minutes Saturday afternoon to secure his berth in Sunday’s title match against Jannik Sinner with his 6-1, 6-3 victory over No. 37 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. De Minaur converted seven of nine break-point opportunities – all but one of the Spaniard’s eight service games.

The semifinal triumph improved de Minaur’s win-loss record since the beginning of the grass-court season to 16-5, and it ensured de Minaur’s place in his fourth ATP Tour final of the season.

“It was a very tough day. Very tricky conditions out here,” de Minaur said in his on-court interview. “Very windy, and not easy to play tennis. So, from the first point, I just told myself to stay positive. I was going to try and win every point, try to be solid and not expect perfect tennis. I think that made the difference today.”

After securing Top 20 victories earlier this week against Casper Ruud and Alexander Zverev, Davidovich Fokina was low on energy and de Minaur took advantage to win in straight sets and become the first Australian to reach the Canadian final since Patrick Rafter in 2001.

“[I’m proud of] bring out the level that I knew I always could and being able to back it up day after day,” said de Minaur, who had never gone past the last 16 in a Masters 1000 tournament. “That’s been one of the goals of mine, to stay consistent and keep bringing this level, and give myself chances to play in the deep ends of tournaments. To play against the best in the world and go toe to toe with them.

“I gave myself the chance this week. I’ve take that opportunity, and tomorrow I get to play another final.”

Arevalo/Rojer reach first Masters 1000 title match

Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands won eight of the final 10 points of their match tie-break against Marcel Granollers of Spain and Horacio Zeballos of Argentina to pull out a dramatic 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 victory to advance to their first Masters 1000 final as a team.

In Sunday’s final, the Salvadoran-Dutch duo, winners of six ATP Tour titles, will face No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury, who advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over No. 6 seeds Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz, both of Germany, to reach their second ATP Tour final this season. Ram and Salisbury are chasing after their second title of the season after winning on clay at Lyon.

By the numbers

With Jannik Sinner, Tommy Paul, Alex de Minaur and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina competing in the National Bank Open semifinals, it assured there would be a first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion. Sinner will face de Minaur in Sunday afternoon’s title match. He leads their lifetime head-to-head 4-0.

“Quotable …”

“For a couple of years now, I’ve been chasing that goal, and probably put a lot of stress on myself to try to achieve that. I’m always going to get the absolute most out of myself. I’m not content where I am, so I’m just going to get the absolute most out of myself. I’m not content where I am, so I’m just going to keep on pushing.”

Alex de Minaur of Australia, on rising to No. 12 on the ATP Live Rankings following his Top 20 wins this week against Cameron Norrie, Taylor Fritz and Danill Medvedev.

“I realize I didn’t play well …So all I can do now is practice to be better You know I have some weeks before the US Open. But now I have to be focused on Cincinnati. It’s a Masters 1000. It’s a big tournament as well. … I take a lot of lessons from this tournament, you know, coming to the next ones.”

– World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, who was upset by No. 12 seed Tommy Paul of the United States in Friday’s quarterfinal round, during his post-match press conference.