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Sinner storms into Rotterdam crown


‘We have done a really good job some weeks ago and now we did a very, very good job here’


ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AFP) — Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner powered to his first Rotterdam Open title on Sunday, breaking down a determined defensive effort from Australia’s Alex de Minaur to win 7-5, 6-4 in a high-quality battle.

The win extended the Italian top seed’s unbeaten streak to 15 — including his run to glory in Melbourne — and took him to a career-high third in the world rankings.

“We have done a really good job some weeks ago and now we did a very, very good job here,” said Sinner, referring to his Australian Open triumph.

“I’m really proud of my level that I played throughout this whole week. We have been in a tough situation but we handled it in the right way.”

De Minaur, seeded fifth, had not beaten Sinner in six previous attempts but came into the match in the form of his life and went toe-to-toe with his opponent in the early exchanges.

Sinner’s consistency and power off both wings eventually pierced De Minaur’s defense and the Italian broke serve at 2-2 after some entertaining rallies.

De Minaur broke back in the 10th game, after saving two set points with some extraordinary retrieving.

A long rally at game point left Sinner lying on the floor gasping for breath after diving unsuccessfully for a powerful backhand drive up the line from his opponent.

The confident Sinner recovered quickly and had his own break points in the next game, converting the second as De Minaur ill-advisedly left a volley that dropped on the baseline.

Serving a second time for the set, Sinner made no mistake, closing it out to the delight of a packed Rotterdam crowd.

There was no let-up in intensity at the start of the second set, De Minaur scrapping back everything Sinner threw at him and the two players trading breaks to level at 3-3.

A tired-looking De Minaur backhand into the bottom of the net gifted Sinner another break of serve in the next game and this time the Italian held serve to move within one game of the title.

The gritty De Minaur fought to the end but Sinner was ultimately too strong and finished it off 6-4.

The two are friends off the court and former doubles partners and they embraced at the net as the Rotterdam crowd gave them a thunderous ovation.

“It’s very tough to play against you. It’s better when we are on the same side playing doubles,” Sinner quipped.

De Minaur’s run to the final included a pulsating
semifinal against Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, later describing it as his “best match on tour.”

“I asked him jokingly if he’s going to lose a match this year. He’s playing at an incredible level and just too good. I’ll get you back next time!” De Minaur said.

De Minaur said he had taken “another big step in the right direction” and pledged to “fight for bigger and better things.”

Sinner’s path to the final was serene, with injury-prone Canadian veteran Milos Raonic withdrawing at the start of the second set in the quarterfinal and then a straightforward win over local boy Tallon Griekspoor in the semis.

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