By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
Youth was served Saturday afternoon as 19-year-old Jannik Sinner advanced to the Citi Open final with a 7-6(2), 6-1 win over 20-year-old American Jenson Brooksby.
Sinner is the youngest player ranked inside the ATP Tour’s Top-25 and can now become the first teenager to win the Washington title since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008.
Sinner has yet to lose a set this week, though the world No.24 came close against Brooksby. Serving at 5-6 in the opening set, Sinner found himself in a Love-40 hole. But Brooksby couldn’t seize the opportunity, committing five unforced errors on the next five points.
Sinner would ultimately win the first-set tiebreaker, before breaking Brooksby twice in the second set to reach his third final of the year.
“I think it was a great match from both of us,” Sinner said of the battle between ATP NextGen Stars. “I think the level was quite high. The intensity was high. It was great to play here with the crowd, as well.”
Sinner, who turns 20 on Aug.16, will face American Mackenzie McDonald in Sunday’s championship at 5 p.m. It will be their first ATP Tour encounter.
Sinner won 83% of his first-serve points against Brooksby and fired six aces as he became the first Italian to reach the DC final in the event’s 52-year history.
“We’ve been working very hard on the serve,” he said. “After Wimbledon, obviously we had this kind of time off. I think physically I feel a little bit stronger which helps you out a little bit more on the serve, as well.”
Brooksby, who only arrived in Washington after accepting a last-minute wild card, was the lowest-ranked Washington semifinalist since 2007. The world No.130 won over several fans in his maiden Citi Open appearance and is projected to crack the top-100 next week.
Brooksby says there is much he can build off of after reaching the semifinals in his first career ATP 500-level tournament.
“I think it's just getting way more comfortable with this atmosphere and these conditions,” he said. “Just really gaining a lot of confidence that I can compete and beat anybody, I believe. Having another week like this, it keeps me believing more and more that I'm doing the right things.”