INDIAN WELLS, March 17 — Italy’s Jannik Sinner out-gunned defending champion Taylor Fritz 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells.
Sinner, ranked 13th in the world, awaits the winner of the remaining quarter-final between top-seeded world No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz and 10th-ranked Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
In a scintillating Stadium Court showdown between two of the ATP’s big hitters, Sinner denied Southern California native Fritz’s bid for a second straight win in his home tournament.
Sinner, winner of the title in Montpellier this year and already the first Italian to reach the Indian Wells quarter-finals, seized the initiative with a service break in the opening game.
Fritz, who rose to fifth in the world with a title at Delray Beach this year, was unable to convert his chance to return the favour in the next game and that was enough for Sinner to seize the set.
Fritz responded in the second, losing just four points on his serve and converting the only break point in the final game when he slipped a low forehand up the line past the Italian.
“I think the wind came a little bit at some point especially in the second,” Sinner said. “He started to move me around a little bit more.
“And then we both we have very similar play styles. We both tried to be very aggressive on the baseline. So I tried to mix things up a little bit and obviously I’m very happy with the way I played the last set.”
It was neck and neck again in the third, which opened with an exchange of breaks before Fritz used his big serve to escape a 0-40 jam.
Fritz saved another break point in the seventh game, racing forward on Sinner’s drop shot and coming up with an angled backhand winner.
But Sinner broke through in the ninth game, his pounding forehand to the corner forcing the miss from Fritz on break point.
Sinner polished it off with a hold at love after two hours and 17 minutes.
“I knew the last games would be tough to close it out, I was also a little bit against wind,” Sinner said. “I just tried to play quite aggressively which I’ve done.
“Obviously (I’m) very happy about the performance, playing against Taylor is not easy. I lost against him two years ago here and given the conditions, I’m very happy that I found a way to win.” — AFP