Top seed Jannik Sinner soared into his fifth tour-level final of the season on Saturday at the European Open as he continued his pursuit to qualify for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals.
The 20-year-old produced a dominant performance from the baseline to down South African Lloyd Harris 6-2, 6-2 in Antwerp in 87 minutes.
“I am very happy to be in the final,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “He is having an incredible season, so best of luck for him to finish in the best possible way. Thanks to the crowd for coming out today, it was a great atmosphere here. I just love playing here and love playing indoors, so hopefully I can play a great match again tomorrow.”[FOLLOW ACTION]
The Italian, who has yet to drop a set at the ATP 250 event, is 11th (2,745 points) in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, 210 points behind ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz (2,955). The Pole occupies the final qualification spot with eighth-placed Spaniard Rafael Nadal missing the season finale due to a foot injury. Should Sinner win the title in Antwerp he would move to within 110 points of Hurkacz.
When asked on qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals, Sinner said: “It is a long way. There is still this tournament and then three to go. I have to play well in Vienna and well in Paris and there are other incredible players trying to get there. Hopefully this year, but if not I can be happy about my season.”
The top seed is aiming to make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. Sinner now leads Harris 1-0 in their ATP Head2Head series and is bidding to win his fourth tour-level title of the season in Antwerp, having triumphed in Melbourne, Washington and Sofia.
Victory would see Sinner draw level with Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev for the second most tour-level trophies won this season. Fellow Turin contender Casper Ruud, who is seventh in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin (3,015 points), leads the way with five titles.
“The courts are very similar to Sofia, where I have won the tournament twice,” Sinner added. “I love playing here, I think I can move well here. I am happy about my level today.”
— Next Gen ATP Finals (@nextgenfinals) October 23, 2021
Harris was competing in his second tour-level semi-final of the season, having reached the final in Dubai. The 24-year-old enjoyed a run to his maiden major quarter-final at the US Open last month.
Sinner will face second seed Diego Schwartzman in the championship match after the Argentine cruised past #NextGenATP American Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 6-0 in 86 minutes to continue his love affair with the European Open.
The 29-year-old reached back-to-back finals in Antwerp in 2016 and 2017, before enjoying a run to the last four in 2018. Schwartzman will be aiming to win his second tour-level title of the season, having triumphed on home soil in Buenos Aires.
In a strong performance, Schwartzman broke Brooksby five times and won nine games in a row to secure victory in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
“It is always tough when you play an opponent you have never played before,” Schwartzman said in his on-court interview. “In the first game, you try and figure out how he is going to play and how I am going to play and how you feel the ball.
“I was just trying to put every ball in and I think the first set helped me because in the second set he was unable to do what he did in the first set. I kept my rhythm in the second set, which I think was the difference. I feel very comfortable here.”