Alexander Bublik tried everything in the book to unsettle Jannik Sinner at the Miami Open but with the Italian teenager keeping his composure to win 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to reach the semi-finals; he will take on Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in Sunday’s final
Last Updated: 01/04/21 11:05am
Former Next Gen ATP Finals winner Jannik Sinner is fast becoming the next big thing in men’s tennis following his rapid rise up the rankings over the last two years.
Alexander Bublik asked the question on everyone’s lips after the calm and composed Sinner reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami at the age of 19.
Not since Nicola Pietrangeli – a French Open winner in 1959 and ’60 – has Italy witnessed such an extraordinary talent as Sinner.
He is just the eighth teenager to reach the semi-finals in the Miami Open’s 36-year history.
Five of those men, Andre Agassi (1990), Lleyton Hewitt (2000), Rafael Nadal (2005), Novak Djokovic (2007) and Andy Murray (2007) have gone on to top the ATP rankings.
Two years ago, Sinner was ranked 322 in the world, but now he is the second-youngest player in the top 100 and he has already cracked the top 32.
In February he became the youngest player since Novak Djokovic in 2006 to win two ATP titles by claiming the Great Ocean Road Open after his Sofia Open title at the end of 2020 and he already has a Grand Slam quarter-final appearance to his name following a fine run at Roland Garros last year.
Bublik piled praise on his opponent and gave some insight into the pair’s humorous exchange at the net following Sinner’s 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 victory on Wednesday.
“He’s not [human]. That’s a fact,” said Bublik. “I asked him if he’s a human or not, because for me, it’s very surprising that the guy at his age has this mental toughness that many, many other players don’t have.
“I called him a robot a couple of times during the match, but I do it in a very sincere way because he’s a really, really a great player.”
Sinner was born in San Candido, which is a town in northern Italy, in South Tyrol, near the Austrian border and is coached by Riccardo Piatti and Andrea Volpini.
Known for having one of the most powerful backhands in tennis, ‘Jan the Fox’ says he still has plenty to improve on.
“You know, some matches you play good; some matches you maybe make some mistakes. The most important thing is to stay there every point, trying your best every match and every practice session,” he said.
“Still 19, you can only improve. For sure maybe in next year I’m another player and one year after I’m another player once more. So I’m going to change [my game] for sure.
“I’m just looking forward to getting better day after day and that’s for me the most important thing.”