By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday, March 16, 2023
Jannik Sinner defeated Taylor Fritz in three thrilling sets to reach her first BNP Paribas Open semi-final.
Image source: Getty
With the flags above the iconic Stadium 1 flapping in the breeze, the defending champion Taylor Fritz did everything to overcome the obstacles and the threatening Italian on the other side of the net in Thursday’s quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Open.
He rallied from a set against Jannik Sinner, then in the third set, with the wind snaking, he pulled himself together after a breakdown in the third. Then he saved three break points to hold it 2-1 and another for 4-3. But in the end he couldn’t resist the constant pressure from the Italian and caved in the ninth game before Sinner drove the final nail in the coffin, holding on for love to lock in a 6- 4, 4-6, 6-4. victory.
Sinner becomes the first Italian to reach the semi-finals in the 47-year history of the BNP Paribas Open, and will face Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday with a place in the final on the line.
Fritz couldn’t hide his disappointment after the contest. The Southern California native began his rise up the rankings in Indian Wells, when he reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final in 2021. Last year he ran for ages and beat Rafael Nadal in final for his biggest career title.
In total, Fritz has won 14 of his last 16 at the BNP Paribas Open.
“He was the best player and played a lot of situations in the game better than me,” Fritz said. “He deserves to win. I don’t know, I guess it’s a little easier to take a loss when it feels like the other person has, you know, played well and deserved it.”
The American said the wind played a part in the final set and it was extremely difficult to cross the pitch on one side of the court.
Sinner agreed with his assessment.
“Both sides are difficult to play, because on one side you have to do, especially when you have the wind against you, you have to do more first serves but try to always play aggressive, maybe it loses a bit of timing and everything,” Sinner said. “But if you play with the wind, it’s also tricky, because especially in rallying you can lose a long time. So it was tough. I changed the back position a bit at one point, which helped a bit. But still, it was tough. I felt like I was playing well today on both sides.”
Sinner hit more winners than Fritz – 32 to 25 – and the pair each hit 17 unforced errors.
Conditions may have played a part, but it didn’t diminish the quality of the high-octane affair.
“It was a tough game,” Fritz said. “I found a way to get back to it and get into the third set, I took a break in the third and got it back. I don’t know. I gave myself a decent chance to win the game, but in the end I just couldn’t make it.”