Ranked outside the top-500 in February, an 18-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner has made tremendous progress so far in 2019, winning two Challenger titles and embracing first ATP wins, including one at home Masters 1000 event in Rome.
Ranked 119th, Janik earned a wild card in Antwerp to enter his eighth ATP event in a career, scoring two commanding victories to become the first player born in 2001 with an ATP quarter-final. In the second round, Jannik toppled world no.
13 Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2 in precisely an hour, having a chance to become the youngest ATP semi-finalist since Borna Coric in 2014. The youngster served at 48% but that was hardly an obstacle for him, dropping ten points in his games and fending off the only break chance he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the net and force Monfils to repeat that if he wanted to stay in contention.
The last year's finalist was far from those numbers, spraying too many errors and losing almost half of the points in his games, getting broken four times from ten chances offered to the Italian who delivered incredible tennis from both wings to outplay the better-ranked and the more experienced player completely.
Jannik went for his shots right from the start, securing a break in the first game with a forehand winner and hitting three winners in the next game to confirm it and move 2-0 up. Monfils had to save two break points in the third game to avoid an even bigger deficit and fired a forehand winner to erase another break chance at 1-3 to stay one break behind.
Sinner lost four points in his games and that opened the door for him to attack on the return, sealing the first set with another break in game nine when Monfils netted a forehand for a 6-3 after 31 minutes. Jannik had to save a break point in the first game of the second set, gathering even stronger boost and forging the advantage with a break in game four thanks to a loose volley from Gael.
There was nothing the Frenchman could do on the return after that first game, barely winning any point and pushing Jannik into the first ATP quarter-final after another break he suffered in the eighth game, drifting further and further away from the ATP Finals.