Italian seventh seed Jannik Sinner beat Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday to set up a Canadian Open final clash with Australia’s Alex De Minaur, who was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Sinner outlasted Paul in a slugfest that was a showcase of power from both sides and at one point saw the duo engage in a 46-shot rally that marked the longest of the week in Toronto.
“It was a fight obviously,” said Sinner, who saved eight of 11 break points in the win. “He was playing great as I do and at the end, you know match point, when I got there I was praying please. But thank God I won in two (sets).”
Sinner and Paul twice exchanged breaks in the opening set but it was the Italian who held serve when it mattered most as he took a 5-4 lead before clinching the set with another break.
Sinner led 2-1 in the second set when Paul called for the tour physio who worked on his right hip while he lay sprawled on his left side in discomfort.
Paul was unable to hold serve in the next game, handing over the break with a double fault, before a determined Sinner went on to consolidate for a commanding 4-1 lead.
From there, the Italian continued to display great length and pace on his ground strokes and turned aside three break points, including one during a 46-shot rally, for a 5-2 lead that sent him on his way.
“I tried so hard to win that point,” Sinner said. “Just tried to play one more ball in the court than him and that was I guess the solution.”
De Minaur overcame blustery conditions to secure a breakthrough victory over Davidovich Fokina and reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career.
De Minaur, who was fresh off an upset over second seed Daniil Medvedev, delivered a simple gameplan in rather tricky conditions, while Davidovich Fokina struggled to find any sort of rhythm throughout the 78-minute match.
“First thing I knew once I stepped out on court it wasn’t going to be pretty, so I didn’t expect perfect tennis from my side of the court today,” said De Minaur, who wrote “so windy” on an on-court camera lens after the match.
“I just told myself to stay positive, keep competing no matter what and you never know what’s going to happen.
“So I thought I had a great mindset today … Didn’t play the best of tennis, but I did what needed to be done today in these conditions.”
De Minaur wasted no time setting the tone against Davidovich Fokina as he broke the Spaniard twice en route to a 5-1 lead before serving out the opening set on his first opportunity.
The 24-year-old Australian maintained the pressure as he broke Davidovich Fokina four times to build a 5-2 lead in the second before sealing the match with his seventh break.
“I’ve had a hell of a week. It’s been the breakthrough that I always knew I had inside of me so it’s great to show it and play for a final,” De Minaur said.
Pegula tops Swiatek to reach Montreal final
Jessica Pegula beat world number one Iga Swiatek 6-2 6-7(4) 6-4 on Saturday to reach the Canadian Open final in Montreal, where ongoing rain delayed the start of the other semi-final between Elena Rybakina and Liudmila Samsonova until Sunday.
Rybakina and Samsonova are now scheduled to begin their match at 1.30pm ET (1730 GMT) on Sunday, leaving the winner with little downtime before the final, which will begin “after suitable rest” and not before 5.30pm.
American world number three Pegula, playing in her third consecutive Canadian Open semi-final, broke Swiatek’s serve 11 times and managed her way through the big moments of the match better than the four-times Grand Slam winner.
“She always makes it tough but of course it’s incredibly rewarding to beat the number one player in the world and I am sure that will give me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow and the next couple weeks,” Pegula said securing a spot in her first Canadian Open final.
Neither player was able to defend their serve until Pegula held to love for a 4-2 lead and the American followed that by going up a double break before producing a pair of aces to close out the first set on her next service game.
Swiatek looked to have settled into a groove as she opened the second set with her first service hold of the day followed by a pair of breaks for a 3-1 lead.
Pegula, however, clawed back and opened up a 5-4 lead after breaking Swiatek for the eighth time but was unable to serve out the match as the Pole levelled the frame before going on to force the decider.
Swiatek won the first eight points of the third set to build a 2-0 lead but Pegula kept cool and twice came back from a break down en route to securing one of the biggest wins of her career.
Rybakina reached the semis with a win over Daria Kasatkina in a match that lasted nearly three and a half hours and ended just before 3am local time on Saturday.
Samsonova booked her place in the final four with a win over Belinda Bencic during Friday’s night session after beating Aryna Sabalenka in the day session.
Samsonova has won both her previous meetings with Rybakina, including a first-round clash in Montreal two years ago.
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