Sizzling Sinner boosts Italian pride at Australian Open

Australian Open
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 24, 2022 Italy's Jannik Sinner in action during his fourth round match against Australia's Alex de Minaur REUTERS/Morgan Sette

MELBOURNE, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Jannik Sinner raised the Italian flag high over Melbourne Park on Monday, knocking out home hope Alex de Minaur 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4 to join compatriot Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

It is the first time since Paolo Bertolucci and Adriano Panatta at Roland Garros in 1973 that two Italian men have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam.

Sinner, who also reached the last eight at the French Open in 2020, played superbly in a high quality match at Rod Laver Arena, taking control after the first set tiebreak.

“It was a tough test for me because (Alex) is an incredible player and one of the nicest guys on tour also,” said 11th seed Sinner, who will play the winner of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz for a place in the semi-finals.

"Obviously when he plays here at the Australian Open, he is a tough opponent. Very, very tough. I knew that."

Sinner had won his two prior matches against the 32nd seed, which included a straight sets victory in the decider of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Italy in 2019.

De Minaur, a quarter-finalist at the U.S. Open in 2020, had early opportunities to break Sinner in an even first set but ultimately succumbed to his rival’s firepower.

The clinical Italian broke De Minaur at the start of the next two sets and kept the Australian at bay.

"I tried to stay composed with myself and today, I have to say, I raised the level, especially in the second and third sets,” Sinner said.

"In the beginning, there was a little bit of tension on both sides, which is normal. I was expecting a long match.”

Sinner credited the experience gained throughout last season, when he won four titles and qualified for the ATP Tour Finals, as crucial to his development.

"Last year, for me, was a long year. Many, many tournaments for me for the first time,” he said.

"I (gained) a lot of experience in the last couple of months and I think I’ve grown as a player and as a person.”

Reporting by Courtney Walsh; editing by Ed Osmond and Ken Ferris

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