Jannik Sinner survives

Sinner survives Struff’s clutch serving to snatch three-set win

Jan-Lennard Struff put on an incredible serving performance on Friday, but Jannik Sinner held strong to move on to the Terra Wortmann Open semifinals. Struff failed to pull off the shock against the new No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings after hitting 18 aces and saving 16 of 18 break points, including all 11 in the second and third sets.

The Italian won his third straight three-set match in Halle, going 6-2, 6-7(1), 7-6(3), following wins over Tallon Griekspoor and Fabian Marozsan. In all three of the bouts, Sinner was defeated by a tie-break.

Sinner remarked, “That was a very tough match.” “I was unable to take advantage of my opportunities in the second and third. In the opening match of the third set, it was 0/40. I just make an effort to take on these kinds of tasks. It’s obvious that it’s been quite difficult mentally. I’m thrilled to be moving on to the next round. I played a lot of grass tennis yesterday and today, clocking in at two and a half hours. I’ll attempt to get well in time for tomorrow’s match, hopefully.”

Sinner, who is ranked #1 in the world, has not yet faced a seeded opponent in his debut event. When he faces Zhang Zhizhen on Saturday in the semifinals, that pattern will continue.

Sinner is vying to become the first person to accomplish it since Andy Murray at the 2016 Nitto ATP Finals, and the eighth player in PIF ATP Rankings history to win the title in his debut event at No. 1.

The Italian took advantage of Struff’s backhand early on in the match, breaking twice in the first set. However, Struff became more aggressive in the second game, especially with his forehand, and counterattacked Sinner’s second serve. According to Infosys ATP Stats, Sinner won 67% of his second-serve points in the opening set and only 36% in the second.

As the match clock approached two hours, two double faults by Sinner at 2-2 in the third set gave Struff his first break point; however, the Italian held strong, and the set swiftly progressed toward a tie-break. Sinner’s first and Struff’s tenth (5–5, counting his Halle opener) decisive tie-break occurred in the third set.

Sinner, who defeated Struff in Indian Wells and Monte-Carlo earlier this season, now leads their Lexus ATP Head2Head match 3-0. The Italian has advanced to Wimbledon 2023, his second tour-level semi-final on grass. He has won 34 straight matches against players who are not in the top 20 of the PIF ATP Rankings.

In the decisive match on Friday, Zhang overcame Christopher Eubanks with a late comeback. After falling behind 2–5 in the third set, the Chinese player won five straight games to take the match 6-4, 4-6, 7–5.

Zhang has advanced nine spots to No. 33 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings this week, positioning himself for a new career high, after reaching his second tour-level semi-final (Hamburg, 2023). His comeback against Eubanks supported his greatest career victory by PIF ATP Ranking, which came on Wednesday in a third-set tie-break against World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev.

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