Italy’s Jannick Sinner makes a return to Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman during the men’s singles final at the European Open tennis tournament in Antwerp, Belgium, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
No. 7 seed Jannik Sinner meets qualifier Frances Tiafoe in the Erste Bank Open semifinals Saturday
Sinner holds a 2-0 head-to-head lead over Tiafoe; they should take the court about 10 a.m. ET
Read on for analysis and predictions, and the value in Sinner being the favorite
It has been very challenging for players – especially the young players – to put together back-to-back successful weeks on the ATP Tour.
But at 20, Jannik Sinner is proving the exception to that challenge the same way he’s proved precocious in just about every aspect of his rise.
In Saturday’s semifinals at the Erste Bank Open he takes on 23-year-old Frances Tiafoe, who has put together back-to-back upsets and is looking for a third.
Frances Tiafoe vs Jannik Sinner Odds
Frances Tiafoe (USA)
O 22.5 (-125)
 Jannik Sinner (ITA)
U 22.5 (-110)
Odds as of Oct. 29 at Bet365
Sinner on an Indoor Roll
Sinner didn’t lose a set in winning the Sofia Open indoors in mid-September. After flying all the way to California and moving back outdoors, he reached the fourth round of the (unusual fall) Indian Wells before being routined by an in-form Taylor Fritz.
But since flying back over the pond, he has yet to lose.
Sinner didn’t drop a set in four matches as he won the the ATP 250 European Open last week. To give you an idea of how dominant he was, six of the eight sets were won 6-2.
Clearly it didn’t take much out of him, because he’s on the same kind of roll at the higher-level 500 event in Vienna this week.
Sinner hasn’t dropped a set in beating big-serving Reilly Opelka, Austrian wild card Dennis Novak and, on Friday, No. 4 seed Casper Ruud.
Early in the first set Friday, Ruud was able to break Sinner’s serve for the first time in 44 service games for the Italian, but it was a Pyrrhic victory in a 7-5, 6-1 defeat.
Frances Tiafoe vs Jannik Sinner Head-to-Head
23 (Jan. 20, 1998)
20 (Aug. 16, 2001)
Boynton Beach, Fla.
San Candido, Italy
Career ATP Singles Titles
No. 3 (Nov. 20, 2017)
Career High Ranking
No. 11 (Oct. 25, 2021)
Career Prize Money
2021 Won/Loss record
Career Head to Head
The Newest Member of the Top 10
When the new ATP Tour rankings come out Monday, Sinner will be in the top-ten for the first time.
More pertinently, beating Ruud on Friday gives him an edge in the last-minute scramble for a qualifying spot at the ATP Finals in Turin.
A SEVENTH semi-final of 2021 for @janniksin 🔥
He defeats Ruud 7-5 6-1 to make the #ErsteBankOpen semi-finals – and moves ahead of Hurkacz in the race to qualify for the #NittoATPFinals pic.twitter.com/qJlRnJpJqL
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) October 29, 2021
He sits in the No. 8 spot in that race, just behind Ruud, but beating Ruud stops the Norwegian’s progress this week. Sinner would slip past him to No. 7 if he wins the tournament. Eight will qualify.
2022 Australian Open Odds Tracker
Tiafoe Exorcises a Few Demons
This has been a breakout week for Tiafoe in the sense that not only did he post one great win, he put together back-to-back great wins.
After upsetting No. 1 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round, he returned Friday and upset No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman, 6-4, 7-6 (6). It was nervy. Tiafoe was up 6-4, 5-1 – only to find himself serving to stay in the set. And then, he had to save set points in the tiebreak.
Schwartzman appeared to be content, at crunch time, to just put the ball in the court. Tiafoe went on the attack, and he didn’t miss.
Frances Tiafoe vs Jannik Sinner Match History
Next Gen Finals (RR)
3-4, 4-2, 4-2, 4-2
6-4, 3-6, 6-3
Tiafoe No Match for Sinner
It tells you how precocious Sinner was that, 3 1/2 years younger than Tiafoe, he beat him at the 2019 Next Gen Finals as the invited wild card.
(Sinner, then 18 and the lowest-ranked player in the field at No. 95, won the exhibition).
The young Italian began that season ranked No. 549, playing a $15,000 ITF – the lowest level in pro tennis. He played Challengers, ATP Tour events and Grand Slam tournaments.
At the time, Tiafoe was already ranked No. 47. That’s two spots better than he was coming into this week.
Sinner is just at a different level and if Tiafoe almost let the opportunity for a second straight upset get away from him Friday, it’s likely Sinner won’t even give him a sniff at it Saturday.
He’s not only a better, more consistent player, he’s also on a major roll.
Best Bet: Sinner in straight sets (-138)