‘In the zone’ Sinner doesn’t realise the match is over!

The Italian will face 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo in the fourth round on Tuesday

Jannik Sinner at the 2023 Toronto Masters Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Italy’s Jannik Sinner was so focused during his third-round match against Alexander Shevchenko at the Rome Masters on Sunday that he did not realise he had won.

Sinner, the local favourite, and Shevchenko, a rising 22-year-old from Russia, were locked in a battle to secure a last-16 berth at the Italian Open. After splitting the first two sets (Sinner 6-3 and Shevchenko 7-6), Sinner held match point while serving at 5-2 (advantage Sinner) in the final set.

After hitting a volley into the open court which Shevchenko returned wide, Sinner began to walk back to the baseline not realising the match was over. It was only when he reached the baseline, with the crowd on its feet, that he then turned his back to realise the match was over after two hours and 12 minutes.

Speaking on court after the match, Sinner said he thought the score had become 5-1 after he won that point.

“I thought it was 5-1 but it was better that I won already. I think I was quite in the zone, trying to play every point in the maximum,” Sinner said, “I missed a couple of points, especially in the second set and in the tie-break, but you have to cut this part away and then try to be ready for the third set, which I’ve done. I reacted very well.”

Sinner will next face Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, the No 24 seed, for a spot in the quarter-finals where he is projected to meet fourth seed Casper Ruud, who plays Serbia’s Laslo Djere in another fourth round match.

The 21-year-old, who is aiming to become the first Italian man to win the title in Rome since Adriano Panatta in 1976, has reached at least the quarter-finals in all seven ATP Tour events he has played this year and will be hoping to continue that streak on Tuesday.

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