New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) Jannik Sinner roared back in his budding rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz with a statement semi-final win on Friday night at the Miami Open.
The Italian's 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2 victory will end Alcaraz's reign atop the ATP Rankings, with Novak Djokovic set to take over as World No. 1 on Monday, reports ATP.
The result also gives Sinner a measure of revenge after his loss to Alcaraz two weeks ago in the Indian Wells semis.
"It means a lot. We both played a very, very high level of tennis again. I just tried my best," Sinner said after advancing to his second ATP Masters 1000 final, both in Miami. "In the third set I saw him struggle a little bit for a couple of games so I tried to push there... We both tried to play very aggressive tennis and today it went my way so I'm very happy."
Despite leading early in all three sets, Sinner was on the brink of defeat as he stared down two break points at 3-4 in the second. But the 21-year-old won 19 of 21 points to snatch the set and open up a 2-0 lead in the decider, with Alcaraz struggling physically at the start of set three. The Spaniard regrouped to bring up a break point at 3-2, but Sinner fought it off and powered through the finish after three hours of show-stopping tennis of the highest quality.
With NBA stars Luka Doncic and Jimmy Butler among those lucky enough to be in attendance, Sinner and Alcaraz traded highlight-reel attacks, with few of the many extended rallies staying neutral for long. At 4-2 in the opening set, Sinner won what must be a frontrunner for point of the year, whipping a backhand beyond a diving Alcaraz to cap a 25-ball rally in which both men showed sublime skill in both attack and defence.
Shockingly, Sinner's heroics only served to fuel an Alcaraz charge. The Spaniard edged in front 6-5 and, though he failed to serve out the set, he won the final five points of the tie-break from 2/4.
Alcaraz seemed destined to complete another comeback from 0-2 in set two, only for Sinner to find his form at the crucial moment to turn the match back in his favour — this time for good. Sinner finished with 28 winners to his opponent's 22 and won 16 of 25 net points in an engrossing all-court display that earned him his first win against a current World No. 1.
By levelling their ATP Head2Head series at 3-3, Sinner snapped Alcaraz's 10-match and 21-set winning streaks, denying the Spaniard's bid to achieve the Sunshine Double by following his Indian Wells trophy with a successful Miami title defence. Alcaraz was two wins away from becoming the first man to accomplish that feat since Roger Federer in 2017.
Sinner will face Daniil Medvedev in Sunday's final, when the Italian will play for his first ATP Masters 1000 title. He previously reached the Miami title round in 2021, when he lost to Hubert Hurkacz. Sinner has yet to beat Medvedev in five tries, their most recent meeting coming in the Rotterdam final in February.
Sinner has moved up two places this week to No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, a mark that would match his career high in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He can reach No. 6 by winning his eighth ATP Tour title, which would double as his second of 2023 (Montpellier).
Alcaraz said that he was disappointed with the loss, but proud of the show the pair put on.
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