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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday October 28, 2020


Some thoughts on Wednesday's run of play at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna...

Jannik Sinner
. He just keeps winning. The only teenager currently inside the ATP’s Top 100 is also the ATP's only teenager inside the Top 50, and Sinner, a soft-spoken Italian who packs a mean punch, continued his fine season today with a solid straight-sets victory over Norway’s Casper Ruud.

Tennis Express

The 19-year-old Italian earned his sixth Top 30 win of the season, 7-6(2), 6-3, in one hour and 44 minutes, to set up a round of 16 encounter with Russia’s Andrey Rublev. That is one of the most heavily anticipated matchups on Thursday in Vienna, but not the only one worthy of popping some popcorn.

Here's the Order of Play:


It's hard to believe that Sinner started 2020 with just 11 ATP wins to his name. He looks like a savvy veteran and he gives himself chances to win every match he plays. Just a few weeks ago he was the only player that gave Rafael Nadal run for his money (in a set, at least) at Roland Garros and, unlike some of his other peers, Sinner doesn't seem to have much trouble bringing an extremely high level to most matches whether he eventually wins or loses.

The precocious teenager will bid for his third Top 10 win since September against Rublev, but he’ll be up against one of the toughest outs on the ATP Tour. The Russian owns four titles in 2020 and has compiled a remarkably impressive 35-7 record.

Like Sinner, Rublev has been a revelation in 2020. We wrote about him here, if you're interested.

It will be another great test for Sinner, and another chance for fans to get to know the capabilities of this young talent, who will not turn 20 until next August.


Tsitsipas, Unbroken

Another young buck who was in good form on Wednesday in Vienna was Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Greek, who actually lost to Sinner in Rome last month, was very crisp in defeating Jan-Lennard Struff, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4. It was a strong rally against a top competitor for the Greek, and he managed to get through a very tight contest without surrendering a break of serve. Tsitsipas saved all three that he faced, and if Struff hadn’t played so well in the first set, the fifth ATP-level meeting between the pair could have been an easier victory for the Greek.

Next up for Tsitsipas, another mouthwatering contest, with Bulgiaria’s Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov was very strong in defeating Russia’s Karen Khachanov on Tuesday in Vienna – this should be a great test for both players.

Tsitsipas won the pair’s only previous meeting, in straight sets at Roland Garros in the round of 16 this year.


FAA Grounded

One young gun that didn’t find his way through on Wednesday was Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 20-year-old was taken out by Vasek Pospisil, 7-5, 7-5. Pospisil broke serve three times and defeated his compatriot for the first time in four tries.

Auger-Aliassime has played some great tennis indoors this year, reaching three finals, but it was the veteran from British Colombia that took care of his business better on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old World No.81 will look to stay hot against Daniil Medvedev on Thursday in Vienna—not an easy task, given how good of an indoor player Medvedev is and how easily the Russian took care of Chinese Tapei’s Jason Jung on Wednesday. Nevertheless, Pospisil has been a very strong player on fast courts over the last year or so, since he has fully recovered from his back surgery, and he shouldn’t be counted out. The Canadian will need to find ways to finish points quickly against the Cagey Russian, and it won’t be easy. Medvedev likes to return from far behind the baseline, and he makes things tricky for the best servers with this mode of returning.

Pospisil took out Medvedev on an indoor court earlier this year in Rotterdam, so he does have that going for him.

Another Impressive Milestone for Novak Djokovic

Richard Pagliaro has already covered Novak Djokovic’s impressive 7-6(11), 6-3 victory over Borna Coric, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how good the World No.1 looked on Wednesday. He was literally flying all over the court against Coric. Djokovic saved all three break points he faced in the opening set and then rattled unruffled through four set points in the tiebreaker before finally converting to take the lead. Djokovic would bend, but he just wouldn’t break—it was a very composed and upbeat effort from Djokovic, and of course, the historical implications cannot be overlooked.

Though it’s not official yet, Djokovic has all but locked up a sixth year-end No.1 ranking with his victory today. That means he’ll join Pete Sampras as one of just two ATP players to have finished a season with the top ranking more than five times.

It was a record that Sampras drove himself crazy trying to achieve in 1998, because the American felt at the time it was one of the most difficult records to achieve. Winning Slams came easy for Sampras, but to hang on and outplay everybody else and be the last man standing at the top of the table after a long, hard season was a meaningful accomplishment. It still is today, and Djokovic is the man that has done it more than any other Big Three member, so kudos to him for that.

Anderson Shows He Still Has Game

It was a very nice, turn-back-the-clock victory for Kevin Anderson to close Wednesday evening's festivities in Vienna. It's nice to see that the South African, now 34 and coming off two surgeries on his right knee in less than six months, is still capable of producing that jaw-dropping ball-striking that made him a Top 5 talent and a two-time Grand Slam finalist. He dominated Pablo Carreno Busta, 7-5, 6-1, rallying from a break down in the opening set to claim his first Top 20 win in 23 months.

 

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