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Steely Sinner resists Rune for Monte-Carlo SF spot


Persistence paid off for Jannik Sinner on Friday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.

The second-seeded Italian kept his cool to reach his second consecutive semi-final at the ATP Masters 1000 event with a 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-3 triumph against Holger Rune. Sinner let slip six break points and two match points in the second set before prevailing in a hard-fought quarter-final clash in Monaco.

“It took a lot [to win this match],” said Sinner in his post-match interview. “Playing against him is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I’m very happy I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I’m very excited about tomorrow’s match.”

With his two-hour, 41-minute triumph, Sinner improved to 14-2 against Top 10 opponents since last September. Friday’s victory was his second in a row against Rune, whom he also defeated at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals. The pair is now level at 2-2 in their Lexus ATP head2Head series.

Awaiting Sinner in the semi-finals will be Stefanos Tsitsipas, who earlier overcame Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-2. The No. 12 in the PIF ATP Rankings, Tsitsipas is a two-time champion in Monte-Carlo, where he will head into Saturday’s last four clash with an 18-3 record in the Principality.

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough one for sure,” said Sinner of the semi-final matchup. “Against Stefanos, who is playing well. Let’s see what I can do tomorrow.”

Due to rain earlier in the week, Rune had won two matches on Thursday in Monte-Carlo, including a third-round thriller against Grigor Dimitrov that set a record for the longest best-of-three-sets match in tournament history. Despite those exertions, Rune returned to court Friday with impressive energy and appeared pumped up in the opening games against Sinner.

That did not prove enough to overcome the red-hot Italian. Rune let slip a break point in the fourth game of the match and it immediately proved costly as Sinner sealed the only break of the opening set in the next game. As he has so often throughout his stellar 2024 so far, Sinner dialled in behind his delivery, dropping just six points on serve en route to the first set, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

Rune continued to battle valiantly on Court Rainier III, however, where he recovered from 0/40 to hold for 3-2 and then again for 6-5 in the second set. Having missed those opportunities, Sinner still looked set for a straight-sets win as he carved out a 6/4 lead in the tie-break, but Rune fired a stunning winner to kick-start a four-point streak with which he snatched the second set.

A see-saw match briefly threatened to swing Rune’s way in the decider. The Dane held a break point, just his second of the match, at 2-2, 30/40, but Sinner shut the danger down before winning 12 of the final 15 points of the match to finally see off Rune and improve to 25-1 for the year.

“I just focus on my side… It’s all part of the learning process,” said Sinner, when asked how he had kept his concentration as Rune channelled the crowd atmosphere to mount his comeback. “Even if I lose today, I learn again, so I’m very happy about today. It has been a very tough match. I’m very happy about the win.”

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