Sinner fires past Dimitrov on way to summit

The 22-year-old to become world No.1 for the first time after his Roland-Garros campaign

Jannik Sinner, quarter-final, Roland-Garros 2024©Julien Crosnier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Jannik Sinner demonstrated why he is the incoming world No.1 with an emphatic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(3) triumph over Grigor Dimitrov on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Tuesday.

After this year's Roland-Garros, the No.2 seed will replace Novak Djokovic at the peak of the men's rankings following the Serbian's withdrawal with a knee injury.

Into a first semi-final in Paris, Sinner must await the result of the night session clash between Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas to find out his opponent.

The Italian was given a standing ovation when asked about his career-defining news. 

"First of all, it's every player's dream to become No.1 in the world," he said. "In the other way, seeing Novak (Djokovic) retiring here is very disappointing for everyone. I wish him a speedy recovery.

"Thanks to my team, without them this process would be impossible. It's a special moment for me. Let's see what I can do on Friday."

Story of the match

Rewind to the Rome Masters 2020 and Dimitrov edged Sinner over three sets in their first meeting. A few weeks later the Italian booked his first quarter-final on the Grand Slam stage in Paris. 

Since then Sinner has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top and has won the subsequent three duels with Dimitrov – all on hard courts.

On Tuesday it was Dimitrov who served up the first piece of magic. The crowd were ready to applaud a Sinner drop shot but the Bulgarian sprinted forward and redirected a delicate angled drive.

Sinner's skiing background came to the fore; the 22-year-old was sliding side to side with consummate ease and was a wall of defence. A cracking forehand, the sound reverberating around the stands, opened up a 2-1 break lead.

Pressed back by a Dimitrov approach shot, Sinner took one giant stride and arrowed a forehand pass to help gain a double break.

In 34 minutes Sinner was up a set and showing why he is a Grand Slam champion. He continued his forehand passing precision to instantly break in the second set.

Down 1-2, Dimitrov unleashed his most penetrating backhand of the match, a down-the-line gem to chalk up deuce. Sinner neutralised any hint of trouble with two quick-fire aces and rapidly posted a two set lead.

'The Fox' was wily on pretty much every point, hanging in with patient play to force Dimitrov to produce spectacular shots. The 33-year-old did just that, scorching a forehand winner at 1-2 for his first break opportunity of the match.

Sinner escaped that time, but Dimitrov was digging in his heels. With the Italian serving for the match at 5-4, the world No.10 clattered another forehand for 5-5.  

But like most Grand Slam champions, Sinner found another level. Into the tie-break and the 22-year-old slid to his left to direct an open-stance backhand down the line to cap a memorable day.

Key stats

After Roland-Garros, Sinner will be crowned as the first Italian man to top the singles rankings.

His consistency has been key. The 22-year-old has now reached three major semi-finals in the past four Grand Slams.

In terms of the match, he dictated with a strong display of serving, highlighted by winning 81 per cent of first delivery points, eight aces and zero double faults.

Jannik's take on things

On his performance: "I'm very happy. We've played a few times before, the final in Miami, and we know what to expect. It's always tough against him.

"I was very solid in the first two sets. I had a little issue when serving for the match, but this is tennis, this is normal, and I'm very happy I reacted later and very happy to be in the semis."

Will he see Alcaraz vs Tsitsipas? : "I can go to the restaurant and watch it there. I like to relax, I like to watch tennis – so hopefully it's a great match, I'm quite sure it will be. Then I have a couple of days to prepare in the best possible ways for the semis. I'm looking forward to it and it will be a huge pleasure to step onto this court again.

"This is a tournament I have struggled at in the past, especially the last couple of years, I will make sure I enjoy this. I will try to play the best tennis that I can."