Italian teen Jannik Sinner advanced to the Miami Open final on Friday, rallying past Spanish seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the biggest championship match of his young career.
Sinner, who reached last year’s French Open quarter-finals, defeated Bautista 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 after two hours and 28 minutes to become only the fourth teen to reach the men’s final in the 36-year history of the ATP Masters 1000 hardcourt event.
“Today we both showed great tennis,” Sinner said. “It was not easy. It was a little bit windy as well. I’m very happy about my performance today.”
The 19-year-old Italian, playing only his third Masters 1000, joined 1990 champion Andre Agassi, 2005 runner-up Rafael Nadal and 2007 winner Novak Djokovic as Miami teen finalists.
Sinner took his eighth career triumph over a top-20 rival and ensured he will rise into the ATP’s top 25 next week, although he nearly smashed a racquet in a tense second set.
“Sometimes you get the frustration going but just trying to stay calm, which is how I am normally,” Sinner said. “Sometimes you have to scream or do something else, but don’t break racquet. Please let me don’t break racquet.”
Sinner will play for the title on Sunday against the winner of a later semi-final between Russian fourth seed Andrey Rublev and Polish 26th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who eliminated Greek second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
“For me it’s the first match against either so it’s going to be very interesting,” Sinner said.
Sinner seeks his third career ATP title after last year at Sofia and February in an Australian Open tuneup at Melbourne.
As excited as he was at reaching the final, he kept a long-term perspective about what it meant for his career.
“This kind of stuff can help you a lot. It’s good to be in finals here but it doesn’t mean anything,” Sinner said.
“The road is very long and I want to improve day after day and we’ll see what’s coming.”
Bautista, who ousted Russian top seed Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals, missed out on his second career ATP Masters 1000 final after 2016 at Shanghai, where he lost to Britain’s Andy Murray.
– Keeping it simple –
Bautista broke Sinner to open then saved two break points and held for a 2-0 lead. But Sinner broke back at love in the sixth game to level at 3-3.
The Spaniard broke again for 6-5 when Sinner netted a backhand and he held to claim the set on his second ace after 51 minutes.
In the second set, Sinner saved four break points in the seventh game to hold but sent a backhand wide on his first break chance in the eighth games as Bautista held for 4-4.
Sinner held and then broke when the Spaniard netted a backhand to force a third set.
Bautista broke at love for a 2-1 lead in the deciding set, but Sinner roared back to claim the victory and ensure himself a place in next week’s ATP top 25.
“I tried to stick with my serve after the second set, maybe a little bit deeper,” Sinner said. “Trying to keep my game simple and make it in the best possible way so I’m very happy today.”
Bautista, who at 32 was chasing his 10th career ATP crown, lost his only prior match with Sinner last month at Dubai 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, with the Italian firing 16 aces.
“We played a tough one in Dubai and now a tough one here. He’s a very solid player, maybe one of the most solid on tour,” Sinner said.
“Every match has its own story. It can help a little bit, of course, but every day is different.”
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