The nearly 22-year-old Jannik Sinner has currently found himself in a fortunate position when it comes to draws. His recent performance at Wimbledon highlighted it; he impressively reached his first major semifinal without facing a single opponent from the Top 30 in the five matches he won, an uncommon feat (93 – the average ranking of his rivals). The Canadian Open was no different, as he clinched the title without having to confront a Top 10 player, which is equally unusual in a 56-draw. Moreover, in the round of 16, Sinner was granted a pass due to his opponent’s withdrawal. Nonetheless it seemed a matter of time he would clinch a Masters 1K title already two years ago when he reached the Miami final.
In the Toronto championship match he navigated past Alex de Minaur with relative ease. It’s worth noting that Sinner and De Minaur had crossed paths in a final four years prior, with Sinner emerging victorious in the NextGen. An intriguing twist was that “Demon” had been Sinner’s doubles partner during the Canadian Open, although the Italian/Australian duo suffered a defeat in the first round, which concluded in a super tie-break.
De Minaur – the highest ranked unseeded player – exhibited remarkable tenacity throughout the tournament. He notably rebounded from a set point down at 1:5* in the first set of the third round. Equally impressive was his comeback from a *1:5 deficit in a tie-break on the following day, with De Minaur securing “9/7” tie-breaks in the mentioned sets against higher-ranked opponents. The slender Australian has faced setbacks in his three recent ATP finals, all of which ended with rather one-sided defeats for him. Characterized as a counter-puncher lacking a robust acceleration on either wing, De Minaur’s strategy hinges on the missteps of more powerful players who wield dominant forehands. Unfortunately for him, they didn’t have bad days in this year’s finals (Queens Club, Los Cabos, Toronto).
The tournament also witnessed an impressive showing by tennis veterans who were once Top 10 mainstays. The 33-year-old Milos Raonic, buoyed by strong local support and holding a wild card ranking of 545, advanced to the third round, demonstrating his enduring prowess in the opening round. On the other hand, Gaël Monfils, four years Raonic’s senior and currently ranked 276 with a protected ranking, went a round further, with the distinction of being the sole player to capture a set off Sinner. Both Raonic and Monfils achieved victories against Top 10 players, reaffirming their competitive aptitude on the court… The support of local fans didn’t help Félix Auger-Aliassime to snap a bad streak. The Canadian has lost 8 out of his last 10 matches (four defeats in a row). At the end of 2022 he was the hottest player on the tour (three titles back-to-back), and I thought that with an improved backhand he’d attack the Top 5 this year, however, if the current form sustains, he will not finish this season in the Top 20.
The early 1990s marked a noteworthy shift in tennis dynamics, as the importance of a powerful serve became more pronounced than ever before. This period led to discussions suggesting that taller players, at least 180 cm in height, would hold the significant advantage on faster surfaces. However, this theory faced a challenge during the ‘Mercedes Super 9’ events of summer ’93. In Montreal, Mikael Pernfors emerged triumphant, and in Cincinnati (Pernfors’ early exit), Michael Chang claimed the title; both players stood at a height of 173 cm (5’8”). Jason Stoltenberg found himself a victim of them both, facing defeat in the 2nd round in Montreal and the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. Chang’s last three matches proved demanding and unique in terms of total points won: the Chinese American won just two points more than Stoltenberg, ten points fewer against Andre Agassi (a surprising unseeded presence, his first after 76 consecutive events), and four points fewer than Stefan Edberg. A remarkable upset came from 23-year-old Steve Bryan [202, qualifier], who achieved the greatest success of his career by advancing to the quarterfinals. Bryan capitalized on Richard Krajicek‘s fatigue in the second round and stunned Andrei Medvedev the following day, only to face an insurmountable challenge in Pete Sampras, who was eliminated by Edberg in the match of the tournament. Edberg would again cross paths with Chang in the Cincy final the following year, that time resulting in a rather one-sided encounter.
As the best players converged in the United States to prepare for the US Open, one elite player diverged from the norm — Thomas Muster. Surveying the tournament’s draw, it was evident that defeating Muster in San Marino would be a daunting task. True to form, the Austrian navigated the week without dropping a single set. Yet, his final opponent, Renzo Furlan, elevated the competition, compelling Muster to invest two hours of effort before securing his 18th career title. Martín Jaite, no. 10 in 1990, played the last match of his career at the main-level at age of 29 in the “Italian” micro-state. Just one month later, he participated in a Challenger event in Venice, where he once again faced a first-round loss. This defeat marked his seventh consecutive loss, a streak that intensified the sense of bitterness and disappointment.
Toronto (Masters 1K; hard outdoors)
(7)🇮🇹Jannik Sinner d. 🇦🇺Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-1
Cincinnati ($1.4M; hard outdoors)
(7)🇺🇸Michael Chang d. (3)🇸🇪Stefan Edberg 7-5, 0-6, 6-4
San Marino ($275K; clay outdoors)
(1)🇦🇹Thomas Muster d. (6)🇮🇹Renzo Furlan 7-5, 7-5
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