Jannik bloodily loses the tie break in the first set, recovers in the second and spreads in the third: tomorrow at 19 he plays the final against Medvedev. Carlitos falls from the throne, Djokovic returns to No.1
Sinner, we are lost for words. Annihilated by three hours wrapped up in an extraordinary match, we can’t find adjectives to celebrate Jannik Sinner, capable of beating a sometimes monstrous Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinal of the Masters 1000 in Miami and earning the challenge for the title against Daniil Medvedev. An extraordinary victory in an extraordinary match that definitively consigns the rivalry between Sinner and Alcaraz to tennis history. And this is confirmed by the words that the 19-year-old Spaniard said to Jannik at the net, as soon as he was defeated: “Go man, now take the title, I’m rooting for you”. The web went crazy tonight admiring these kids, 40 years old in two, who are now 3-3 in the previous ones on the circuit. Ten days ago Carlitos beat Jannik in the Indian Wells semifinal, today the pupil of Vagnozzi and Cahill evened the score by closing 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2 in 3 hours. The South Tyrolean, already back to number 9 in the world, will have the chance to climb even higher reaching the best ranking of number 6 if he were to win the title, and he is already number 4 in the Race for the Finals. Carlos, who will not be able to defend the title conquered last year in the final with Ruud, thus descends from the throne, giving Djokovic the scepter and crown of no. 1 in the world.
The first set
At the beginning Sinner has the attitude of someone who has learned from the mistakes of the past and the anchor he clings to is the serve: with nine consecutive firsts he holds the very complicated first round and, in general, manages to limit the aggression of the Spaniard . And he does it using the same weapons as Alcaraz, which is constant aggression. Compared to the Indian Wells semifinal, the blue refuses to be on the defensive, indeed he has the urgency to command the exchange. He enters the field with his feet, answer after answer, and so he breaks the break in the fourth game, that of 3-1, which consolidates into a 4-1 on his own innings. The best start this time is from the Italian, with a Carlitos on the defensive, stuck where he’s not used to being. And so the Spaniard, apparently less effective than his rival in serving, makes an enormous effort to put his head back in the match and keep his serve after saving two break points. But as always, a spark is enough for Carlos to ignite: once he gets to 4-2, he regains energy and lost confidence, so he hits a counter-break in a truly incredible game. He is seasoned with the best point of the tournament, perhaps of the year, won by the blue after a hands-on exchange, but in the end it is Jannik who pays the price due to a first serve that suddenly jams. So he starts again on equal terms, from 4-4, with three games in a row won by the Spaniard. But it is the inertia of the match that has changed, with the Spaniard back in Terminator mode and Jannik beaten less brilliant and aggressive than the first ones: Alcaraz then breaks the 6-5 serve from the South Tyrolean, responding to each Jannik broadside in his own way , turning every defensive exchange into an offensive one. But at this celestial level of tennis nothing can be taken for granted and so, in the last game which lasts ten interminable minutes, Sinner manages to break his opponent’s service, after four break points and two double faults by Carlitos . The tie break, however, was won by Alcaraz 7-4, with many gratuitous mistakes by the blue who threw away a mini-break: a frozen shower on the most beautiful after an hour and 17 of battle, a mountain of regrets for the ‘South Tyrolean back in the top ten.
The first set ends exactly like in Indian Wells, with the tie-break of the game, but psychology textbooks could be written on Jannik’s mental strength: the beginning of the second set, with a break on the Spaniard’s serve, is yet another example. And Sinner’s subsequent recovery on his serve is also important, from 15-40 to 2-0: it is proof that, when he prevents Carlos from having good or bad times, the South Tyrolean red can fight on equal terms using the baseline arsenal. A hint of cramps, however, appears at the climax to ruin his possible draw, so he is restarted and overcome 3-2: as in the first set, the Spaniard then lines up three games that could have a devastating effect on morale, but in in this case the physical decline of Italian is also evident. But in the end, using all the energy left, Jannik manages to extend a very tight partial up to 4-4 and holds the eighth game by canceling two break points that would have been very dangerous. In this battle, if our player makes too many gratuitous mistakes in some key moments, the Murciano sees the percentage of his second serve drop. An empty pass arrives from the Spanish alien who gives Sinner an unexpected break. At 5-4 the Italian number one finds himself serving for the set and finally takes advantage of the opportunity: the match, beautiful, extends to the third set.
The grand finale
Alcaraz returns to the field after 10 tactical minutes of toilet breaks and finds some boos from the impatient crowd waiting for him. Then he immediately concedes his serve, missing a short ball on the most beautiful and showing the beginning of cramps too. This is why now the parties seem to have reversed and it is Jannik who shows more exuberance, athleticism and the ability to stay inside the match. He proves it by consolidating the break, winning the fifth game in a row, and then shooting up to 3-1. However, the physical crisis of the Spaniard seems to have been overcome quickly thanks to an enormous strength of will and this forces the South Tyrolean to keep the level as high as possible to defend his break up to 4-2. And then to break his opponent’s serve for the second time after another game that never seems to end and in which Carlitos throws in the towel with two double faults and some forced errors. Thus, at 5-2, Sinner serves for the match, hammers with his service and backhand and finally manages to beat the world number one: the final in Miami is his, as in 2021, and he will play it on Sunday against Medvedev .
April 1, 2023 (change April 1, 2023 | 04:57)
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