Jannik Sinner and Taylor Fritz both entered their Thursday BNP Paribas Open quarter-final with lengthy winning streaks in the desert, defending champion Fritz on a nine-match tear and and Sinner on a run of five victories, excluding his fourth-round withdrawal last year.
The comfort level of both men in Indian Wells was apparent in a high-quality matchup, with Sinner’s huge hitting making the difference in the crucial moments of a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win. Already the first Italian man to reach the quarters in the event’s 47-year history, Sinner extended his historic tournament by improving to 3-3 in his past six matches against Top 5 opposition.
“I just tried to play quite aggressively, which I’ve done,” Sinner said. “I’m obviously very happy about the performance. Playing against Taylor is never easy. I lost against him two years ago here. He loves the conditions here so I’m very happy that I found a way today.”
Sinner is now through to his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, after his run to the 2021 Miami title match (l. to Hurkacz). He will meet Carlos Alcaraz or Felix Auger-Aliassime on Saturday in the last four.
His desert success has lifted him two places to No. 11 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings — one place behind Fritz, who will fall at least five places to No. 10 on Monday.
Sinner’s forehand was pure fire today 🔥
Jannik Sinner defeated Taylor Fritz with a 8.9 #ShotQuality on the forehand.@tennis_insights | @BNPPARIBASOPEN | #TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/esA5I5Zd62
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 17, 2023
Sinner powered to a fast start and won the opening set behind a break in the very first game. The 11th seed continued to threaten on return throughout the set and secured the 6-4 opener with a love hold.
Fritz settled in during set two, increasing his shot tolerance and rattling off three love holds of his own. As Sinner’s error count increased, the Italian ultimately paid for his dip in level when Fritz held his nerve to execute a two-shot pass on the first break point of the set for either man, which doubled as set point.
“I think the wind came a little bit at some points, especially in the second set,” Sinner assessed. “He started to move me around little bit more. I think we both have very similar play styles. We both try to be very aggressive from the baseline, so I tried to mix things up a little bit. Obviously how I played the third set, I’m very happy.”
A dramatic open to the final set saw a trade of breaks, followed by a 0/40 escape by Fritz, who used a timely barrage of big serves to wriggle out of trouble. The American again had the answer for a break point at 3-3, motoring up to a drop shot to angle a clutch backhand winner, but Sinner’s aggressive game delivered a late breakthrough to make it 5-4.
A love hold finished the job for Sinner after two hours, 17 minutes, his final-set victory banishing the demons of fifth-set losses to Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the past three Grand Slams.