Beijing: Jannik Sinner on the up and up

The Italian downed Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev in quick succession to claim a ninth career title in Beijing.

Jannik Sinner / 3e tour US Open 2023©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Romain Vinot

Having landed a maiden Masters 1000 title in Toronto in August, Jannik Sinner turned on the power again in the Chinese capital to win one of the most keenly contested ATP 500 tournaments of them all. In the process, he broke into the world top 4, the first Italian to do so since Adriano Panatta in 1976.

Sinner beats his bogeyman

After delivering a performance full of control, accuracy and power to see off generational rival Carlos Alcaraz 7-6(4) 6-1 in the last four, Jannik Sinner acknowledged that an in-form Daniil Medvedev would pose an even bigger test in the final. “I will have a very difficult match against a player I never want to face,” he explained after his semi-final. “It’s another great opportunity for me to show my best tennis, trying to change a few things. Hopefully they work.” Spoiler: they worked to perfection.

The Italian was right to be apprehensive, having lost all six of his previous meetings with the world No.3, who has been in imperious form on hard courts this season, posting 42 victories and reaching seven finals, winning four of them. He was the firmest of favourites to add a fifth here, but met his match in the Italian, who went blow for blow and showed no cracks in his defensive game.

With first- and second-serve percentages of 82% and 71% respectively, Sinner coughed up a solitary break point, which he saved. Unafraid to come up to the net – winning 19 of 29 approaches – against an opponent positioned so far back he blocked the camera operator’s view, the Italian was rewarded for his adventure. That said, he was unable to convert any of the five break points that came his way: two at 4-3 in the opening set and three more at 1-1 in the second.

The kid from San Candido waited patiently for the tie-breaks before pouncing to secure a third title of the year, taking a minute over two hours to win 7-6(2) 7-6(2). Ever anxious to improve and a keen analyst of his opponents’ games, he was gracious in victory over the US Open runner-up. “Daniil, thanks for letting me win at least one match,” he joked during the trophy ceremony. “We have had some very tough battles, especially this year. Thanks for making me a much better player. I have been training a lot to beat you. My team are working a lot. Thank you very much and it is special to share this moment with you.”

As impressive as his back-to-back wins over the top two seeds were, what really caught the eye about Sinner’s charge to China Open glory was his adaptability, cool head, confidence and the way he was able to ramp the power up when required. A perfectionist who was smarting after his fourth-round elimination in New York, he continues to groove his game with every passing event. Now fourth in both the ATP Rankings and the Race to Turin, he has taken a huge step to qualifying outright for the ATP Finals for the first time, having been a replacement on home soil in 2021. Judging by his stellar form, Sinner is not done climbing yet.

Next stop Shanghai

The Tour rolls on, however, and there is no time for the likes of Sinner or Adrian Mannarino – who won a fourth career title in Astana beating Sebastian Korda in the final – to pause and draw breath, let alone celebrate. The game’s top guns are now in Shanghai for the penultimate Masters 1000 tournament of the year, a 12-day event that is a must for ATP Finals contenders and an opportunity for several players to add a touch of gloss to underwhelming seasons. As for Sinner and Medvedev, they could meet in the quarter-finals, with Alcaraz potentially lying in wait in the final. Circuit stars eagerly awaited by the many Chinese fans!

Shanghai Masters main draw