08:00 PM GMT April 02, 2021
Jannik Sinner made the latest step in his rapid ATP Tour rise on Friday when he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
The #NextGenATP Italian landed 25 more winners than his opponent (37-12) to reach the Miami final on his tournament debut. During a pivotal game at 3-3 in the second set, Sinner recovered from 0/40 and saved four break points. On the first of those points, Bautista Agut elected not to strike a crosscourt backhand from Sinner, but the ball landed on the sideline.
"If you're 0/40 down, just try to keep fighting. I think obviously that game helped me a little bit in the match," said Sinner. "That game changed a little bit the match. It was the same like Hurkacz and Tsitsipas... Some points can decide the match and sometimes can give you a little bit more strength. I think it was important that game."
The 19-year-old raised his game from that moment to become just the fourth teenager to reach the Miami championship match in the tournament’s 36-year history. Only past and present World No. 1s Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had previously achieved the feat.
Teenage Miami Finalists
|1990||Andre Agassi||19||d. Edberg 6-1, 6-4, 0-6, 6-2|
|2005||Rafael Nadal||18||l. to Federer 2-6, 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-1|
|2007||Novak Djokovic||19||d. Canas 6-3, 6-2, 6-4|
"Joining [those names] feels great obviously but, as I always say, I'm 19," said Sinner. "The road to have this big name is long. It's not done in one week of tournament. [It] is a long process to [get] there."
Sinner is through to his second ATP Tour final of the year, following his title run at the Great Ocean Road Open in February. The 6'2" right-hander, who is the first Italian to reach the Miami final, has beaten Bautista Agut in two three-set matches this month. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion also upset the Spaniard two weeks ago at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
“It feels unbelievable,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “It’s always tough to play against Roberto. Two weeks ago we played in Dubai, we had a tough one there. Now, a tough one here. I’m very happy about reaching the final here in Miami.”
Sinner struggled to match Bautista Agut’s consistency from the baseline in the opening set, and the 17 unforced errors he committed on his forehand cost him two service breaks. In the second set, Sinner reduced his forehand error count to seven and began to find his range on his backhand side. The Italian held his nerve to save four break points in a crucial 3-3 game and he dictated with his forehand to break serve at 5-4 and take the match to a third set.
Bautista Agut directed his groundstrokes up the line to rush Sinner and break to love early in the decider, but the Italian stepped inside the court and ripped his groundstrokes to quickly get back on serve. As he did late in the second set, Sinner pounced at 5-4 and converted his first match point with a cross-court backhand winner, his third winner from that wing in the game.
“I tried to play my game,” Sinner said. “I just tried to make my game, tried to move him a little bit. He’s a very solid player, and obviously special thanks to [the fans]. Thank you very much!”
Bautista Agut was competing in his fourth Masters 1000 semi-final (1-3). The 2016 Shanghai runner-up defeated three consecutive seeded opponents en route to the semi-finals. Bautista Agut beat 31st seed Jan-Lennard Struff in the third round, saved a match point against 18th seed and 2018 John Isner in the Round of 16 and eliminated top seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals.