#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner continued his quest for a second ATP Tour title of the season on Friday at the Citi Open as he overcame Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals in Washington.
The fifth seed, who won the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne in February, struck the ball with great power from the baseline and was strong on serve in the big moments, saving all three break points he faced to advance in 72 minutes.
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“It is not easy, he is a big server,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “You have to find the right balance on court. I tried to move him earlier than he moved me, and I think that was the key today. I tried to get further forward and push him back and make him change something.
”He is a huge server, so if you return in the same way he can get used to it, so you need to change It up. I think I have done that today quite well and my serve today was better.”
Sinner is the highest-seeded player left in the draw and has regained his form this week, defeating 21-year-old Sebastian Korda in the quarter-finals. The 19-year-old snapped a four-match losing streak in his opening-round win against Emil Ruusuvuori and will next face fellow #NextGenATP star Jenson Brooksby in his fourth ATP Tour semi-final of the season after the American defeated John Millman 6-1, 6-2.
The Italian became just the fourth teenager to reach the final at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March and also advanced to the last four in Barcelona in April. Sinner is currently first in the ATP Race To Milan as he closes in on qualification for the 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals that will be held in November.
After a tight start, Sinner made the breakthrough in the fifth game as he manoeuvred Johnson around with his variety of shot making. He served well in crucial moments to fend off any advances Johnson made on his serve to move ahead.
Fuelled by momentum, Sinner gained further control in the second set as he struck the ball cleanly to force Johnson into errors. The World No. 24 was aggressive on his forehand and hit five aces in the second set to secure his victory.
Sinner will later partner Korda in the semi-finals of the doubles on Friday as they team for the first time this week. It is something the 19-year-old has enjoyed, saying: “Thanks to Korda, he is an incredible doubles player. We enjoy playing together and we can learn from each other.”
Johnson was aiming to reach his first semi-final since he enjoyed a run to the last four at the Winston-Salem Open in 2019.