Jannik Sinner started his title defense of the Sofia Open on Thursday when he defeated the qualifier Egor Gerasimov 6: 2, 7: 6 (3) and thus made it to the quarter-finals.
Sinner, currently 11th in the FedEx ATP Race to Turin, is chasing points this week to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be held on home soil. The Italian has a record 34-17 in 2021 and bounced back from a four game loss by winning 10 of his last 13 games, including a Washington title.
“I think what I did this year was good, with some ups and downs,” said Sinner. “When I play, I try to understand something new every week, to learn something new.”
Check out the highlights of Sofia on Thursday:
Sinner won with his third match point after Gerasimov had saved two in the previous game. He is expanding his ATPHead2Head lead over the 28-year-old Belarusian to 2-0 after winning his previous meeting in Barcelona earlier this year.
The 20-year-old showed himself clinically on serve, winning 81 percent of the points on first serve and saving seven of the eight breakpoints he faced. Gerasimov won his lone break to lead 5-4 and serve for the second set, but Sinner fell straight back and won the set on the tie break.
The Italian won his first ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open in 2020, where he defeated Vasek Pospisil in a three-set thriller to lift the trophy.
Next up for Sinner in his effort to keep the title is the formidable Australian James Duckworth, who defeated Benoit Paire 6: 4, 6: 4 on the previous Thursday. The ATPHead2Head between the two stands at 1: 1, with Duckworth Sinner defeating in straight sets in their most recent meeting in Toronto.
“I’m trying to play my best tennis,” said Sinner. “Of course it won’t be easy, but I’m very happy to be here again.”