In a thrilling opening-round match at the Erste Bank Open, Jannik Sinner displayed unwavering determination as he secured victory over his opponent, Ben Shelton. The Italian sensation triumphed with a scoreline of 7-6(2), 7-5, in Vienna, dazzling the audience with his remarkable performance. Sinner’s powerful play consisted of 28 winners, coupled with a mere six unforced errors, during the intense one-hour and 44-minute encounter. This victory allowed Sinner to avenge his recent defeat to Shelton in the fourth round of the Shanghai tournament just two weeks prior.
Reflecting on the challenging match, Sinner acknowledged, “It was a very tough match. He always serves really well, and today was obviously the same. He is confident, he is a very tough player to beat. I was looking forward to it. I lost the last matchup, so I’m happy that I won this one. I’m already looking forward to the next one. I wish him the best for the rest of the season; I think he will finish the season strong. I’m very happy about the performance and happy to be in the next round.”
Despite Shelton’s quick transition from his maiden ATP Tour victory in Tokyo to the courts of Austria, he valiantly pushed Sinner throughout the match, even as signs of fatigue began to surface in the second set. The intensity of the first set was only resolved when Sinner elevated his game during the tie-break. It was a grueling battle for both players, with Sinner fending off four break points during the course of the match.
Sinner’s exceptional returns and ability to capitalize on his opponent’s second serve were pivotal to his success. The Italian claimed an impressive 53 percent of return points against Shelton’s second serves. Notably, it was Shelton’s lack of first serves that proved to be the turning point, allowing Sinner to secure the only break of the match at a critical juncture, with the score tied at 5-5 in the second set.
The 22-year-old Sinner, having already secured direct qualification for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, is poised to face his compatriot, Lorenzo Sonego, in the next round. Sinner holds a commanding 3-0 lead in their Lexus ATP Head2Head series, having secured three victories earlier in the season.
Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev continued his impressive run in Austria by defeating Cameron Norrie with a convincing score of 6-2, 6-4. This marked Zverev’s second straight-sets victory of the week. Zverev’s dominance was evident in his 23 winners compared to Norrie’s eight in the 79-minute triumph. Zverev now boasts an impressive 4-0 record in his Lexus ATP Head2Head series against the British player. He is set to face either Andrey Rublev or Matteo Arnaldi as he pursues his third ATP Tour crown of 2023.
Zverev’s victory on Wednesday also solidified his position in seventh place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion is actively chasing his sixth appearance at the prestigious season finale, scheduled to take place from November 12th to 19th. Tennis enthusiasts can expect more scintillating action as the Erste Bank Open unfolds, with these top-ranked players striving for glory in the beautiful city of Vienna.