Sinner outlasts Alcaraz in duel to reach Miami final
The 10th seed brought the crowd to its feet when he survived an extraordinary 25-shot rally
Miami Gardens (Reuters) - Italian 10th seed Jannik Sinner stunned world number one Carlos Alcaraz 6-7(4) 6-4 6-2 in an epic Miami Open semi-final duel on Friday, as Petra Kvitova set up a meeting with Elena Rybakina in the women's championship match.
Sinner needed everything in his arsenal to beat the defending champion in a rematch of their Indian Wells semi final and delivered with more than two dozen winners to set up a meeting with Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final.
Up a break in the first set, the 10th seed brought the crowd to its feet when he survived an extraordinary 25-shot rally in the seventh game, sending Alcaraz flailing to the ground with a sensational backhand winner, but handed Alcaraz a break point minutes later.
They traded breaks in the final two games of the set and Alcaraz closed the tie break with an ace. But the Spaniard could not hang onto the momentum and he ceded Sinner a break point with a wild shot out of bounds in the opening game of the second set.
Alcaraz broke Sinner on the third try in the fourth game but was scathed in the effort, landing hard on his left hand, and later met with a trainer at his bench. The incident took its toll as Sinner broke Alcaraz to love in the ninth game, ending the U.S. Open champion's 21-set unbeaten streak.
Alcaraz returned from a lengthy break in the locker room depleted and he suffered through leg cramps that left him shuffling around the court early in the third set.
Sinner converted on a break point chance in the opening game and Alcaraz was left wincing as he suffered another fall onto his left hand while diving for a serve in the sixth game.
Sinner converted on another break point in the penultimate game and thrust his fists to the air triumphantly after clinching it with a forehand winner.
He will next face Medvedev, who survived a stern test from his friend and fellow Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3 for a tour-leading 28th victory this season earlier on Friday.
Red-hot fourth seed Medvedev has now reached the final in five consecutive events after triumphs in Doha, Rotterdam and Dubai before finishing runner-up at Indian Wells. "Really happy to be through a very tough match," Medvedev said in his on-court interview.
He came back from 15-40 to hold serve in the opening game as he needed time to figure out the serve of 14th seed Khachanov, who impressively rattled off his first 13 points from the line.
Medvedev finally broke for a 5-3 lead but Khachanov fought off a set point and broke back to put the contest back on serve as the Russians headed to a tie break where Medvedev ended the tight battle by winning three of the final four points.
Khachanov got off to a flying start in the second as he consolidated an early break with a love hold for a 3-0 lead after winning 12 of the first 15 points and went on to take the set in emphatic fashion with a love hold to force a decider.
Medvedev, who entered the match having not dropped a set in Miami, showed his resolve and patience to consolidate an early break and race out to a 4-1 lead.
With no room for error, Khachanov delivered the first of four consecutive games to love between the pair. He lost the last in a game that ended on an entertaining match point where Khachanov pulled off an impressive tweener only to send his next shot long.
Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova of the Czech Republic overcame an unruly fan and a first-set deficit to beat Romanian Sorana Cirstea, reaching the hardcourt final for the first time in her 13th appearance in Miami.
After a routine start to the affair, a supporter for Cirstea cheered loudly as Kvitova made an error and again in between her first and second serves in the sixth game, a violation of spectator etiquette that saw him reprimanded by an usher.
Visibly rattled, Kvitova ceded the break point to her opponent and needed to summon her veteran calm to turn things around. "When I was down, I was just trying to put a return in and I played a good return," she told the Tennis Channel. "One fan screaming against me... I know he supported Sorana but you know it wasn't really nice and I got distracted."
With the distraction behind her, Kvitova broke Cirstea in the ninth and 11th games and once again to open the second set, where she upped her level across the board.
She faces last year's Wimbledon winner Rybakina of Kazakhstan in Saturday's final, after beating her in Adelaide in January. Rybakina, the 10th seed, is hoping to keep the good times rolling after winning last month at Indian Wells.