The second round in Bendigo Challenger brought an exciting clash between the upcoming youngsters who should fight for the notable titles in the future. The 20-year-old Finn Emil Ruusuvuori defeated the 3rd seed and the Next Gen Masters champion Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4 in just over an hour, making another step towards the debut in the top-100.
Ruusuvuori has been one of the most promising players from Northern Europe, together with Casper Ruud and Ymer brothers, putting Finland back on the tennis map and making steady progress through the ATP ranking list. The Helsinki native kicked off the previous season from just outside the top-400 and made fantastic progress, claiming two Futures titles and four Challenger crowns from five finals to crack the top-120.
Before 2019, Emil had only three Challenger victories under his belt, changing all that from the last spring and becoming one of the most successful players on that level in the season. Ruusuvuori claimed the title at Rafa Nadal Academy in September and had the opportunity to return there in December, working with Rafael Nadal and shaping up his game ahead of the start of 2020.
It has been so far so good for Emil in Australia, playing on a very high level against another youngster who made notable progress in 2019 to crack the year-end top-80 as the fifth U18 player since 2000! Still, Sinner couldn't do much against the Finn, struggling on the second serve and getting broken three times from five chances offered to Ruusuvuori who delivered much better numbers behind the first serve, suffering one break and moving over the top in no time at all.
Emil held at 15 in the first game after a service winner, with Jannik responding with an ace in game two to level the score at 1-1 before three more great holds on both sides for a 3-2 for the Finn. Aggressive and determined to keep the points on their racquet, both rivals were ripping the ball and trying to earn the advantage in the exchanges.
That all changed in the sixth game when Sinner sprayed a forehand error to give serve away, allowing Ruusuvuori to cement the lead with a service winner in game seven and blasting two service winners two games later for a 6-3.
Serving at 2-2 in the second set, Jannik got broken to fall further behind, with Emil forging a 5-2 lead with a forehand drive-volley winner that secured another break for him. Serving for the triumph, the Finn saved a break point with a forehand winner before Sinner converted the second with a beautiful forehand down the line winner, pulling one break back and holding to reduce the deficit to 5-4.
Nonetheless, Emil sealed the deal with a service winner in the tenth game, advancing into the third round and looking good to chase another Challenger title and the place in the top-100 in the rest of the month.