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Stoic Sinner navigates chaotic Kyrgios challenge to reach Miami quarter-finals
Nick Kyrgios avoided disqualification but couldn’t keep Jannik Sinner from reaching the quarter-finals again at Miami.
The Miami skies were bright and blue above Grandstand on Tuesday, but on court there were gnarly psychological storm clouds as tempestuous Nick Kyrgios flew off the handle and came within a code violation of disqualification.
As the Kyrgios chaos swirled a cool-headed Jannik Sinner went about his business, executed his game plan and eventually locked down a 7-6(3), 6-3 triumph that places him in the Miami quarter-finals for the second consecutive year.
He will face either Frances Tiafoe or Francisco Cerundolo in the quarter-finals.
Kyrgios melts down and gifts Sinner a break of serve
It was a first-time meeting to remember. Prior to the match, Kyrgios had heaped praise on Sinner, tabbing him as one to watch and adding that the Italian was “going to do some big things in the sport,” but many were tipping the Aussie for the win on Tuesday based on his recent resurgent form.
There was very little between Kyrgios and Sinner on Tuesday, only the cracks in Kyrgios’ mental armor that would eventually make victory much more achievable for the 20-year-old Italian. The Aussie picked up a code violation in the first set, then another for unsportsmanlike conduct, which resulted in a point penalty, awarded to Sinner for 6-3 in the opening set tiebreak.
Kyrgios double-faulted on set point and then launched a tirade against umpire Carlos Bernardes.
“What is unsportsmanlike?” Kyrgios yelled, referring to the second violation he received. “I was talking to my friend.”
Kyrgios would smash his racquet, which got him docked with a game penalty, and would start the second set with Sinner serving up a break at 7-6(3), 1-0.
It wasn’t quite clear what Kyrgios said to earn the second code violation. It seems the Aussie had a few running dialogs going during the match.
To make the contest more interesting, a fan wandered on court to try to take a selfie with Kyrgios during the second game of the second set. He was sent off by security.
Sinner – It was tough mentally
Meanwhile, Sinner kept his cool and played a watertight second set. He never faced a break point and made proper use of the gift that Kyrgios gave him.
Sinner later said that saving a pair of break points in his second and third service game of the opening set helped him find his way into a good rhythm.
“When I saved a couple of break points early in the first set it raised my confidence a little bit,” Sinner said. “It was not easy, there’s one side where the sun is completely in your eye. You have to manage a little bit the situation also. I think today I raised a little bit my level, I had to because he is a very aggressive player, especially when he serves well – I’m very happy about my performance today.”
The Italian says it was his main goal to try and get Kyrgios off balance on his baseline, in addition to trying to put as many returns in play as he could.
“It’s tough to get easy points,” Sinner said. “I think he’s very solid on his backhand, which he plays very flat. I tried to somehow move him a little bit, trying to make him a little bit off balance, especially trying to get as many balls back in court in the return games, which I think I have done very well.
“Obviously it was tough mentally, and I think I’ve done a great job today.”