Sinner Shines In All-#NextGenATP Battle In Miami

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It’s rare Jannik Sinner has the experience advantage. But the 21st seed showed one on Friday as he dismantled fellow #NextGenATP player Hugo Gaston 6-2, 6-2 to reach the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“He’s a very difficult player for me because firstly he’s left-handed. He’s changing the ball a lot,” Sinner said. “We played outdoors with a little bit of wind, so it was not easy I think for both of us. I started well, I put pressure immediately, which I think he felt a little bit.

“For the [opening] round, it was a good match from my side, but he’s a very difficult player to play against.”

The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion needed just 63 minutes to defeat Gaston, last year’s breakthrough Roland Garros star. Sinner overpowered the French lefty, saving all three break points he faced to set a clash against 14th seed Karen Khachanov.

The last time the Miami Open presented by Itau was played, in March 2019, Sinner was outside the Top 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings and still competing in Futures events. Now, the 19-year-old is World No. 31 and still on the rise. He had an answer for everything Gaston tried to do on Court 4, preventing the 20-year-old from controlling the pace of play with his trademark drop shot. 

Sinner now leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0. Earlier this month, the Italian teen beat Gaston 6-4, 6-1 in Marseille.

The 19-year-old’s next opponent, Khachanov, also looked dominant in a 6-3, 6-2 victory against German Yannick Hanfmann, setting a big-hitting showdown in the third round. Both of Khachanov and Sinner’s previous meetings, which have come in the past six months, have gone to a final-set tie-break. The Russian triumphed in five bruising sets at last year’s US Open, and Sinner got his revenge earlier this year at the Great Ocean Road Open.

“I practise for having tough matches. I practise for staying in difficult situations. I practise especially for these kind of matches,” Sinner said. “It’s going to be a tough match for sure for both of us. I know him quite well, he knows me quite well… it’s not going to be easy for us.”

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Khachanov began the day with a 1-4 record in Miami, but he looked plenty confident against the World No. 108. The Russian earned five service breaks in his 71-minute triumph.

The 24-year-old has enjoyed success at ATP Masters 1000 events before. Khachanov won the biggest title of his career at the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters.

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