After scoring his first top-ten victory over David Goffin on Thursday, can Italian young gun, Jannik Sinner take down former top-ten star, Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday to reach the Rotterdam semi-finals?
Jannik Sinner vs Pablo Carreno Busta is live from Rotterdam from 1:00pm local time/ 12:00pm GMT
Sinner was in supreme form on Thursday, fighting back from a break down in both sets to outlast Goffin 7-6 7-5, and reach his first quarter final of the season.
The rising star dropped his serve in a lengthy opening game of the match, but he struck back immediately, and would go on to take the set on a tie break. He let a 6-3 lead slip in the breaker, but he held his nerve to finish off the set on his fifth set point. Goffin again broke early in the second set to take a 2-0 lead, but Sinner broke right back, before scoring the decisive break at 5-5, off a Goffin double fault. The Italian comfortably served out the big win to love.
The reigning Next Gen Finals champion struck five aces and no double faults, winning 72% of points on his first serve, and 55% on his second.
“I feel great, especially now in this moment,” said Sinner, who flashed 27 winners past Goffin. “It was not easy playing against him. He is very solid, so you sometimes go for a winner, or change the rhythm. It feels like a normal victory, [but] sometimes you play [matches] better than others. It’s all about improving and testing where you are [as a player].”
The 18-year-old absolutely rocketed up the rankings last year, finishing at 78th having begun the season at 551st. Apart from his stunning victory at the Next Gen ATP Finals, where he blew away Alex De Minaur in the title match, he also reached his maiden tour-level semi-final in Antwerp, while he won Challenger titles in Bergamo, Lexington and Ortisei, and reached a final in Ostrava.
He did not have a great start to 2020, winning just one tour level match in his previous three tour-level events in Auckland, the Australian Open and Montpellier- is this the tournament when he really takes off this year? He had the good fortune of a bye in his Rotterdam opener, following Radu Albot’s late withdrawal from the tournament, but he made the most of his good fortune, taking out Goffin to reach the second round.
Will his run continue when he faces Carreno Busta on Friday?
Carreno Busta is into his second quarter final of the season, following a pair of three-set victories over Adrian Mannarino and Roberto Bautista-Agut.
It’s been tough going for Carreno Busta in Rotterdam, with the former world No. 10 spending over five hours on court to get through his first two matches. He needed two hours and 48 minutes, and six match points to overcome Mannarino 7-5 6-7 6-4 in his tournament opener, while he required another two and a half hours to fight past compatriot, Bautista-Agut 6-4 2-6 7-6 in the second round.
A US Open semi-finalist in 2017, Carreno Busta was still a top-ten player as at February 2018, but he’s not quite been at that level in the past two years, when he’s struggled with lack of form and injuries.
He dipped as low as 69th in August last year following a below par run of form that featured just two semi-finals in the first seven months, and a host of opening round exits, but he rescued his campaign with a decent finish, which included a title run in Chengdu and a semi-final in Stockholm. His other results of note from 2019 were semi-finals in Hamburg and Antalya, and quarter finals in Auckland, Winston-Salem, Metz and Vienna- all of which contributed to a year-end ranking of 27th.
His start to 2020 has not been the brightest- he opened his season with a quarter final in Adelaide (but he only needed to win one match to get that far), reached the third round at the Australian Open (lost to Rafael Nadal), before falling to Norbert Gombos in the first round in Montpellier.
He has hardly been smooth-sailing in Rotterdam, but he’s so far got the job done, and will have to bring all his experience to bear when he faces the free-swinging Jannik Sinner in the quarter finals on Friday.
Sinner has got the fire power to hit through the Spaniard, and if he serves well and finds his range off the ground, he will be difficult to contain, but the steady Carreno Busta brings bags of experience to the table, and will be ready to exploit any dips in the Italian’s form. The match is on Sinner’s racket, but Carreno Busta hasn’t been a top-ten player and a Grand Slam semi-finalist for no reason. Much like he did against Goffin, the young star will have to earn this one if he is to get over the line.