Jannik Sinner broke new ground at the BNP Paribas Open Tuesday night, progressing to the quarter-finals for the first time after fourth-round runs in each of the past two years. The Italian won a big-hitting battle with Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-4, though the match was much closer than the score suggests.
“The scoreline is wrong today,” Sinner said of its one-sided nature, alluding to Wawrinka’s nine break points in the match. “I felt like we both were playing very well, long rallies, and he was getting every time very close. I got lucky a little bit there at 4-3 [in the second set] when I was serving, he [barely] missed the return.
“Things can change so quickly. I’m very happy to be in the next round but obviously it was a very, very tough match today.”
Now 15-3 on the young season, Sinner has reached the quarter-finals or better in four of his six 2023 events, including his title run in Montpellier. With perfect six-for-six record in sets this tournament, he is bidding for his eighth ATP Tour trophy and his first at the ATP Masters 1000 level. A Thursday matchup against defending champion Taylor Fritz is up next.
While the powerful and aggressive baseline games of both men took centre stage on Stadium 3, Sinner’s agility and defence made the difference in the one-hour, 40-minute victory. In a match full of deuce games and a combined 23 break chances, Sinner saved eight of nine break points on serve to frustrate Wawrinka — including all five in the first set and two from 15/40 at 4-3 in the second.
From 0-2 in set two, Sinner won four straight games to regain control of the match, converting on his seventh break chance of a marathon 2-2 game to move decisively ahead. He won 10 of 14 break points overall as he improved to 3-2 in his ATP Head2Head series with Wawrinka, with wins in their past three matches (Wimbledon 2022, Rotterdam 2023).
After edging the tricky Adrian Mannarino on Monday, Sinner was able groove on Wawrinka’s heavier groundstrokes as he found his rhythm in the desert.
“Every match is different,” he explained. “The match before I struggled a little bit with the backhand. Today was completely different. I had a little bit of a higher ball so I could go really through the ball, so I’m very happy about that.
“I feel I can improve a couple of things. Today I was not serving so well… Tomorrow I have a day off so I have a couple of practice sessions and hopefully I’m going to be ready for after tomorrow.”
Sinner lost his lone previous ATP Head2Head meeting with Fritz in straight sets in the October 2021 edition of the BNP Paribas Open. They will square off on the Indian Wells stadium court for the first time on Thursday with a place in the semi-finals at stake.