On Friday, the Italian dismissed Adrian Mannarino with relative ease, 6-3, 7-5. The Frenchman’s unorthodox left-handed game, filled with low-slices, changes of pace, and awkward ball-placement was no match for Sinner’s crystal-clear ball-striking. It remains unclear whether or not the 19-year-old has shanked a groundstroke in 2020. If he has, we haven’t seen it.
After dropping the first set in a tiebreak to Richard Gasquet in the second semifinal, the 6’ 4” Canadian overpowered his 34-year-old opponent en route to a 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-0, victory. His huge serving and exceptional transition game is tailor-made for indoor tennis, and with the win, he improved his 2020 record to 14-5 with a roof over his head.
This particular matchup makes a compelling case against the ATP’s current ranking system, as both Pospisil and Sinner, despite their current Top-25 UTR ratings, were not seeded in Sofia. We’ll save that argument for another day, but until they increase their respective rankings (both are ranked outside the Top 40), they will arguably remain the two most dangerous unseeded floaters in this, or any draw.
Sinner enters their first encounter as a solid -215 favorite, but Pospisil has been in this situation before, having lost in February's Montpellier final and the 2014 Citi Open title match in Washington D.C. The Italian plays fearless tennis, but will surely battle a few butterflies as he aims to become the youngest ATP champion since Kei Nishikori won Delray Beach in 2008 as an 18-year-old qualifier.
On the court, Pospisil must do everything in his power to play as few baseline rallies as possible. Whether it’s a mixture of serve and volley, going for big returns, or plays like the one below, he must avoid engaging Sinner from the ground.
Ahead of Pospisil’s encounter with Daniil Medvedev in Vienna, I asked Sebastian Korda to assess the Canadian’s chances against the world No. 4. He responded, “look, it doesn’t matter who he’s playing. Indoors, on a quick court, Pospisil is a tough opponent for anyone.”
Pospisil fired 17 aces against Gasquet, and will need a repeat serving performance in order to stave off the phenom. It’s safe to expect a fantastic clash with this being the final match Pospisil and Sinner will play this year on the ATP tour. The Canadian has more than enough game to pull off the win, but truly great players don’t often squander their opportunities. Sinner may just be the most promising teenage talent we’ve seen since Rafael Nadal, and it’s highly unlikely he lets this chance to capture his first of many titles pass him by.
The Pick: Jannik Sinner