Competing at only the eighth ATP tournament in a young career, an 18-year-old Jannik Sinner is through to the first ATP semi-final, becoming the youngest player in the last four since Borna Coric in Basel 2014. In the battle of the Next Gen stars, Jannik took down Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 41 minutes to remain on the title course and move closer to cementing the place in the top-100.
The Italian claimed five points more than his opponent, fending off four out of five break chances and delivering two breaks from five opportunities to seal the deal in three sets and earn another chance to face the three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, just like at the US Open.
Delivering one good hold after another, a teenager kept everything under control in the first set, converting the third break chance at 3-3 and sealing the set with an ace in the tenth game after 34 minutes. Tiafoe took charge in the second set, keeping the points on his racquet and properly defending service games to mount the pressure on his younger rival.
Sinner sprayed a forehand error in the sixth game to lose serve and the American grabbed the set with a service winner in game nine to prolong the encounter and his chances. Starting all over, Jannik barely lost a point in the opening four service games in the final set, forcing an error from Tiafoe at 3-2 to deliver a crucial break.
Serving for the win at 5-3, the Italian fended off a couple of break chances with service winners, moving over the top two points later to advance into the last four and make his Antwerp run an even better one. "I can only say, thanks for the wild card.
I played against a tough opponent, trying to impose my shots, which worked in the opening set. In the second, Frances was a little bit more aggressive, putting me under some pressure before I found the rhythm again in the decider with long and precise balls.
It became a little bit shaky in the end but I served well in the crucial points, doing enough to reach the semi-final. I'm happy to face Stan Wawrinka again and maybe I can beat him this time."