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La résurrection de Stefanos Tsitsipas Jannik Sinner, on top of the world

Jannik Sinner defeated Arthur Fils (7/5 6/2) in the semi-finals of the Montpellier Open on Saturday 11th February.

Arthur Fils made quite an impression all week long. By beating Richard Gasquet in the first round, he became the first 2004-born player to win an ATP tour match. The 18-year-old player didn’t stop there. He defeated Roberto Bautista Augut (6/3 6/3) and his fellow countryman Quentin Halys (7/6 6/3). Unfortunately, beating Jannik Sinner was a challenge out of his reach.

At only 21 years old, the Italian is one of the main figures of world tennis, even if he had disappointing results last season. After losing to Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open semi-finals (3/6 7/6 7/6 5/7 3/6), he didn’t get back on the right track for the end of the year. Nevertheless, his loss in the Australian Open fourth round – also in five sets – against Stefanos Tsitsipas, didn’t impact him as much. Since the beginning of the week, he has been playing with determination and confidence.

A tied first set

Arthur Fils served first in the opening set. Both players set the tone of the encounter. They each found depth and power from their baseline. Jannik Sinner got several break points in the first game. The young French player handled his nerves. He stringed together an unreturned serve, an ace and a dazzling forehand acceleration: 1/0. The games passed by without any of the player being worried during their games of serve. The players’ game patterns were crystal clear. Arthur Fils went around his forehand as much as he could ; his power took time away from his opponent. As for Jannik Sinner, he didn’t hesitate to come to the net when the occasion came: 5/4, serve of the Italian to follow. The latter lacked first serves. A string of great returns gave two set points to Arthur Fils. Jannik Sinner’s consistency got the better of the French. He multiplied powerful forehands until his opponent caved in: 5/5. While Arthur Fils lead 40-15, he missed a retro dropshot. Jannik Sinner then won four points in a row. He got the break, as well as the set.

A one-way battle

Jannik Sinner started the second set with confidence. He didn’t hesitate to come at the net to win the points. This strategy was a success. He broke early and confirmed his advantage in the next game : 2/0. Arthur Fils stopped to believe he could win. He rushed his strikes. Jannik Sinner alternated between attack and defense – covering every inch of the court. A new unforced error gave a double break to the Italian. The games passed by Arthur Fils’ eyes – who was out of solutions : 4/0. The French player won his game of serve easily. He seemed to play at the same level as in the first set. Despite a few surprising errors, Jannik Sinner also won his service game. Arthur Fils served to stay in the match. Impervious to pressure, he stringed together two aces and two unreturned serves: 5/2. The Italian served for a spot in the final – which he got without difficulty.

This encounter was a huge test for Arthur Fils. The French hope of his generation got the chance to challenge one of the leaders of the Baby Gen. This loss highlighted his assets and his areas for improvement. During the first set, Arthur Fils showed initiative, an excellent serve, a powerful forehand and great consistency on the backhand side. Nevertheless, the loss of the first set crushed him mentally. He was then the victim of his own haste : rushed strikes, a game without conviction and too many unforced errors. When he managed to focus again – in the fifth game – it was already too late.

As for Jannik Sinner, he once again showed the extent of his talent. Carried by a high percentage of first serves, he played an aggressive tennis. He rarely played neutral shot and didn’t hesitate to come in the court. He managed to take time away from his opponent thanks to his power and his crossed angles.

In the final, he will face Maxime Cressy – who serves and volleys. His above 200 km/h serves, and his original style of play might give Jannik Sinner a hard time.

Marnie Abbou

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