Jannik Sinner tops Sebastian Korda in highly anticipated Citi Open clash
Jannik Sinner rallied from a double break down in the second set to close out Sebastian Korda in straights sets in a highly anticipated NextGen battle.
Two of the ATP’s most promising stars locked horns for the first time on Thursday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and it was 19-year-old Jannik Sinner of Italy who passed the test with flying colors, rallying from two breaks down in the second set to notch a 7-6(3), 7-6(3) victory over 21-year-old American Sebastian Korda.
Sinner, who improves to 26-14 on the season, will face American Steve Johnson in the quarter-finals on Friday.
“Obviously it has been a tough match, because, you know, we never practiced together,” Sinner said of his victory after the match. “We never played match, so it was kind of new for both of us.”
Sinner defeated 22-year-old Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland on Wednesday in D.C. and seemed ready to face a similarly gifted Korda, despite the fact that he had never shared the court with him before.
“Very similar game style,” he said. “Trying to sticking to my game plan, trying to serve well in the important moments, you know, trying to have a good balance on court, which I think today was okay.”
A surprising twist
The match took a drastic turn midway through the second set, with Korda leading 5-2 and serving to force a third set. Sinner said he had nearly given up hope of winning the set, and was simply focused on playing better, to build momentum for a third set. But when the world No 24 saw his opportunity, he took it.
“When you’re down 5-2, double break – he was playing better that moments. I tried to find a solution as soon as possible,” Sinner said. “Even maybe if we go in the third set, I tried already something, which I think from the return side, from the right side, from the deuce side, I changed a little bit something, and 5-2 is, you know, everyone thinks it’s easy, but it’s not that easy to close it out.”
Sinner admitted that he struggled while serving at 3-5 in the second set, after breaking, but he overcame two double-faults to hold, and was able to build more momentum from there.
“There is a little bit of pressure,” he said. “When I made the break, for me it was important to let him serve out on 5-4. If he’s serving well, okay, that’s it, but if not, trying to play a lot of balls in the court. When I was 5-3 and I was serving, I was tight, as well.
“I made two double faults. Then fortunately I served well. I kept his pressure on him, trying to close it out for his side, and so I think that today was the key of the second set.”