Jannik Sinner, who? Perhaps not anymore.
The Italian teenager, who may not be exactly a familiar name as yet, made heads turn when he came up with a gutsy display to score a dramatic 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 victory over fourth seed and former champion Roberto Bautista Agut on Wednesday to move into the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The measure of Sinner’s two hours 24 minute victory can be judged by the fact that his opponent has already reached two finals this year, in Montpellier and last week in Doha. The 19-year-old, born in San Candido, Italy is certainly the kind of emerging to watch out for even if Sinner fails to progress beyond the last eight in an intense week on Thursday.
“Today I tried to play aggressive, especially on the return game,” said Sinner. “Some points I played a little bit slower to change the rhythm. I think that was the key.”
“Jannik Sinner is arguably the most exciting teenage player in the world, and we greatly enjoyed his wonderful performance against our 2018 champion,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “It will be interesting indeed to see if he can continue his success here as the week progresses.”
The gripping battle remained in the balance right up until the final point was struck. The opening set went to Sinner after he broke to lead 5-4 and Bautista Agut levelled the match by breaking to lead 5-3 in the second before serving out the set. In the deciding set, Sinner held the advantage by breaking to lead 4-2 and although the Spaniard brought it back to 4-4, a double fault at 6-5 gave Sinner a match point that he gratefully accepted.
Sinner, who made his debut in Dubai this week, may still be a new name to many but he has already set a few envious records - ending 2020 as the number one teenager on the ATP Tour apart from winning his second ATP 250 title earlier this season in Melbourne. He won the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals title in Milan and advanced to the 2020 French Open quarter-finals upon his debut there, the first debutant to do so since Rafael Nadal in 2005. He was also the youngest quarter finalist there since Novak Djokovic in 2006.