MIAMI GARDENS, Florida: Italy’s Jannik Sinner ended Carlos Alcaraz’s hopes of the “Sunshine Double” and his reign as world number one, triumphing 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 6-2 in their Miami Open semifinal on Friday.
Sinner will meet Russian Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final while Alcaraz will lose his number one ranking to Novak Djokovic.
Medvedev reached his fifth straight ATP Tour final with a 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 6-3 win over fellow Russian Karen Khachanov.
The disappointment for the 19-year-old Alcaraz, the defending champion in Miami and coming off a title at Indian Wells, will be tinged with frustration after he struggled in the third set with leg cramps.
It had been an enthralling and entertaining power-hitting performance from both men in the first set, won by the Spaniard after a tie-break, but an inspired Sinner fought back in the second.
Sinner broke in the first game and although Alcaraz broke back to make it 2-2, the 21-year-old Italian sensed his moment was arriving and showed confidence in his powerful groundstrokes.
Sinner broke again to go 5-4 up and then held for the set to end Alcaraz’s streak of 21 winning sets.
The world number one was moving with difficulty and was broken on his first serve in the deciding set. Looking in discomfort, he crouched down on his baseline in between points and shot some worried and confused looks to his team in the stands.
Sinner lost his focus for a while, his blistering shots replaced by some conservative strokes but he soon regained focus as he ran out the winner in three hours.
The 27-year-old Medvedev, playing against his boyhood friend, survived a second-set comeback but his trademark precision stroke play saw him through against the big-serving Khachanov in a high quality encounter.
The contest saw a series of long rallies as Medvedev fended off Khachanov’s thumping shots from the baseline and then pinned his opponent back on his service game.
Medvedev hit 13 aces and saved four of six break points as the match turned decisively in his favor when he broke Khachanov in the fourth game of the third set.
Medvedev won 82 percent (14 of 17) of his first-serve points in the final set and was relieved to have beaten a player who knows his game so well.
“In my opinion, it was a top match,” Medvedev said. “In the first set when we lost our serves, it was just a good game from the returner.
“In the second set, I had one bad game and he won the set. I had one break point, I could have done better. He had a break point in the first game of the third set, I managed to play well. He had one bad game in the third set, I managed to take it and I am really happy to be through. It was a very tough match.”
While aware that a very tough test awaits in the final, the Russian said he was capable of beating any player on the tour.
“I have to believe in myself. I know I am capable of winning big titles. I know I can play well and beat anybody,” Medvedev said.
“Carlos is on fire right now but you can’t win 100 matches in a row. At one moment someone is going to put the water on the fire. It might be Sinner today, it might be me on Sunday, it might be someone else next tournament.”
Khachanov said he had played at his best and felt he was a little unfortunate to end up on the losing side.
“To be honest with you, I think it was really one of the greatest matches, I felt from the beginning ‘til the end in terms of level, in terms of speed, intensity, attitude, everything,” he said.