Novak Djokovic may have discovered his qualification for the Masters semi-finals on his way home from a dinner out on the town. On Thursday, the Serbian had planned to go out to Turin and just follow the score rather than watch the match which was about to determine his future in the competition.
After his success in three sets against Hubert Hurkacz (7-6, 4-6, 6-1) earlier in the day, the world No. 1 and defending champion needed a victory from Jannik Sinner against Holger Rune to continue dreaming of a seventh coronation in the masters tournament. Two days after having drained him in three sets (7-5, 6-7, 7-6) and more than three hours, the Italian this time gave him a great gift by overcoming, not without difficulty, the Danes (6-2, 5-7, 6-4).
Sinner and Djokovic thus join Daniil Medvedev in the last four. The last place will be played out on Friday between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev in a distance duel.
Sinner takes advantage of Rune’s wanderings
Some wondered about the motivation of Sinner, winner of his first two group matches and qualified for the semi-finals even before facing Rune. His start, a break on a winning forehand passing then a shutout concluded with an ace, extinguished the doubts: facing his audience, the 4th in the world had no intention of saving himself.
The 22-year-old was helped by his opponent’s wanderings at the start of the game. Alongside his pumps, multiplying the climbs “in socks” (0/5 at the net during the first round) and the gross errors, like a seized forehand, Rune found himself trailing 4-0 in 17 minutes. Then 6-2 in just over half an hour.
The level increased significantly at the start of the second round. Finally inspired, Rune varied more, placed some well-felt drop shots and found efficiency at the net, where he took refuge to get out of long rallies which almost systematically turned to Sinner’s advantage. Two forehands, a winning return at 136 km/h and a peanut along the line, allowed him to obtain his first break point of the match at 2-1. The Italian dismissed her with a winning outside service.
At 2-2, Rune had already scored more winning shots in the second set (7) than in the entire first (6). But at the next change of sides, the 8th in the world called on the physiotherapist and was strapped under the right knee. A few minutes later, at 4-4, it was the Italian’s turn to feel a pang in his lower back.
Rune misses a 5-3 ball in the third set
At 6-5 in favor of Rune, Sinner collapsed on the backhand side: three consecutive faults and three set points to be put aside. He saved the first two thanks to two forehand slaps, but he was lobbed on the last and the Dane came back to height.
The tension rose a notch in the decisive round. The public booed Rune for a long time when he asked for a challenge much too late. “Gentlemen, we won’t resume as long as you continue, so if you want to see tennis…”cut off the French referee Aurélie Tourte who logically refused the Dane’s request.
Once again dominated in the rally, Rune, kept alive thanks to his quality first ball, saved two break points at 1-1 then a third at 2-2. Not much to report until 4-3, when Sinner, increasingly feverish on the backhand side, faced his first break point of the set. But Rune lacked precision on the return (backhand in the lane) behind a second ball from the Italian.
Without knowing it, Boris Becker’s foal had missed his chance. In the wake of this 5-3 ball in his favor, he was broken on a winning backhand volley from Sinner who ended the game straight away.
Gn Fr headline