Home hope Jannik Sinner halts Novak Djokovic’s 19-match winning streak to claim an epic triumph over the world number one at the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday evening in Turin.
In a match for the ages, fourth seed Jannik Sinner overcame six-time champion Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) after three hours and nine minutes at Turin’s Pala Alpitour stadium on Tuesday evening.
Speaking about his maiden victory over the World No. 1, the young Italian asserted: “It means a lot to me. When you win against the World No. 1, who has won 24 Grand Slams, it’s obviously in the top [of my career results]… I felt like it was a really tactical match, and I managed to win, so I’m very happy.”
The opener turned into a chess game, and when the home favorite made a clinical move from 40-0 down to break his opponent in the 11th game, the small margins disappeared.
In blistering form, the Italian, who earned 81 percent of the first serve points and 64 percent on his second, served flawlessly to seal the first set 7-5 in 57 minutes, while a double fault, his first, cost the Serbian high.
Displaying dazzling tennis, Sinner hit 11 winners to 7 unforced errors compared to Djokovic’s 12 to 9, respectively.
The second set remained as close as the opener, with the San Candido native continuing to hold his consistency along the baseline while the top seed showed signs of tension.
Neither player faced a break point during the second set, ultimately decided in a tight tiebreak.
The World No. 1 found a way to recover twice from a mini-break down to close out 7-6(5) in 68 minutes and level the contest.
The edgy match went into an intense third set, which saw the local favorite striking first, converting his first breakpoint in the sixth game to lead at 4-2.
The lead, however, was short-lived as Djokovic broke straight back and held to draw level at 4-4.
Pressure was not a problem for the 22-year-old, who took the final tiebreak by storm 7-6(2), capturing an emphatic victory over the Belgrade-born, the first in four encounters between them on tour.
He finished with 39 winners and 33 unforced errors.
Sinner will next play Dane Holger Rune in his final round-robin clash, aiming to guarantee a maiden semifinal appearance at the prestigious event.
On Sunday, the World No. 4 moved past sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas with a 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
Earlier in the afternoon, the match between eighth seed Rune and Tsitsipas ended after three games as the Greek player retired due to a back injury, handing the Dane his first-ever victory in Turin.
The 2019 champion, forced to withdraw from the season-ending event, commented: “For me, it’s important to be fit and feel good with my back. The pain was very big. I’ve gone through pain during matches in the past, and I endured pain, but this was clearly too much to handle. I had to take the difficult decision to do what I did.”
Adding: “I felt it at the second game of the match. I actually felt it in the warm-up with my serve. Warming up on my serve, I felt very irritated and lots of pain, hitting me on my back. I kind of knew at that time that I might not be able to go all the way.”
Afterward, alternates Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz hit the court to play an exhibition one-set match, which the Pole won.
On Thursday, Hurkacz will step in for Tsitsipas to contest the last round-robin match in Green Group against Djokovic, who will seek to book his ticket into the semifinals.
The 36-year-old kicked off his campaign at the Nitto ATP Finals with victory over the 20-year-old Danish player in a nail-biting three-setter.
Following his opening triumph, the defending champion claimed a record-extending eighth year-end No. 1.
The year-end championships feature the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles, battling for the ultimate crown.