Sinner Sinks Daniel, Reaches R4

  • Posted: Jan 22, 2022

Jannik Sinner was made to work hard Saturday to book his place in the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time, moving past Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Kia Arena.

The 11th seed breezed through his opening two matches in straight sets against Joao Sousa and Steve Johnson in Melbourne. But he found the going much tougher against an inspired Daniel, who was fresh off an impressive victory over former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

“I am very happy about my match wins [this week],” Sinner said in his post-match press conference. “But talking about the match today, it was a tough match for me. I didn’t know him very well. I started well but after that I made a couple of unforced errors and he raised his level, not missing many balls in the second set. It was not the most clinical performance but I am through into the second week.”

After a strong start, Sinner, who is making his third appearance at Melbourne Park, had no answer for Daniel’s powerful hitting in the second set, struggling to find his range from the baseline.

However, with the pressure on, the Italian successfully switched into top gear in the third and fourth sets, striking the ball with more aggression and consistency to advance after two hours and 41 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.

The 20-year-old will next face World No. 83 Pablo Andujar or 32nd-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur. With his victory, Sinner has become the first man since Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009 to advance to the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the fourth time before turning 21 years old. The 2019 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion reached the last 16 at Roland Garros and the US Open in 2021, with his best result at a major coming in Paris in 2020, when he advanced to the quarter-finals.

Sinner, who fired 57 winners against Daniel, enjoyed a standout 2021 season, winning four tour-level titles, before he made his debut as an alternate at the Nitto ATP Finals on home soil in Turin.

In an entertaining match, Sinner took time away from Daniel in the first set as he took the ball early to outmanoeuvre the World No. 120. He broke three times in the set to move ahead, but could not build on his lead at the start of the second set as Daniel raised his intensity.

The 28-year-old committed just six unforced errors in the set to level, but could not stay with the Italian in the third set, with Sinner gaining the crucial break in the eighth game. The World No. 10 then held to seal the set on serve, before storming away to victory as he finally broke Daniel’s resilience.

Daniel was aiming to reach the fourth round at a major for the first time in what was his 18th appearance at a Grand Slam.

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