Jannik Sinner began the season ranked No. 553 in the world. It’s probably safe to say he was not expecting to play in the Next Gen ATP Finals at that point in time, but after a breakthrough year that included two ITF Futures titles, two Challenger titles, his first ATP semifinal in Antwerp—and a little luck—the 18-year-old has arrived in style, and is here to stay.

In April, Sinner sat at No. 314 in the ATP rankings with no tour level wins to his name. After receiving a wild card into the Budapest qualifying draw, he advanced past Lukas Rosol when the Czech retired in the first round, then lost convincingly to Germany’s Yannick Maden in the final round of qualifying. Sinner received a lucky-loser entry into the main draw, where he earned his first career ATP win over the local wild card and world No. 323 Mate Valkusz.

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Match of the Day: Jannik Sinner v. Frances Tiafoe, Next Gen ATP Finals

Match of the Day: Jannik Sinner v. Frances Tiafoe, Next Gen ATP Finals

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At the same time Sinner was trying to find his footing on the Tunisian futures circuit, his opening round-robin opponent, Frances Tiafoe, was battling Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. The two players have been trending in slightly different directions since January. Tiafoe finished his ATP campaign under .500 with a 21-25 record, with one loss coming to Sinner, in his last quarterfinal appearance at Antwerp.

Despite 48 rankings spots separating Sinner from Tiafoe, the carrot-eating Italian is a sizable favorite according to the oddsmakers, who are likely placing considerable weight to their first-time meeting, and the home crowd. While Sinner probably should be the favorite based on recent form, Tiafoe has the experience advantage in Milan as he served as an alternate in 2017 and competed last year.

Due to the funky formats and rule changes, prior Next Gen ATP Finals experience is undoubtedly more valuable than other tournaments. In the end though, expect the pro-Italian crowd to carry their rising star to the finish line.

Match of the Day: Jannik Sinner v. Frances Tiafoe, Next Gen ATP Finals

Match of the Day: Jannik Sinner v. Frances Tiafoe, Next Gen ATP Finals