- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 7, 2021

Down 40-0 with Jenson Brooksby’s set point on the way, Jannik Sinner won three straight points to avoid dropping the first frame of the Citi Open semifinal. After that, the 19-year-old Italian didn’t look back. 

Sinner won the ensuing tiebreak 7-2 to take the first set and cruised through the second set to 7-6(2), 6-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Sinner said the comeback in the first set gave him confidence in the second set, in which he cruised past Brooksby. 

“I just tried to stay calm, staying, trying to be with the right mindset,” Sinner said. “These kinds of things can happen. That is tennis, you know.”

In the second set, Sinner won the opening game and then dropped the second one, but closed the set winning the final five in a row. 

Sinner’s tiebreak win was his third of the tournament, and he hasn’t lost one yet. He said it was a reason why he won the match. 

“So, you know, tiebreak is very fast,” Sinner said. “Trying to keep it simple, trying to make the right moves. Yeah, I think today that was the key.”

The two sets that Brooksby dropped in the semifinal were the only two he dropped during his run at the Citi Open after he beat Frances Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime and John Millman, all in two sets. 

“I think it’s just getting way more comfortable with this atmosphere and these conditions, just really gaining a lot of confidence that I can compete and beat anybody, I believe,” Brooksby said of his week. “Having another week like this, it keeps me believing more and more that I’m doing the right things.”

With the win, Sinner advances to his third final in 2021 and first since the ATP Masters 1000 Miami, where he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets. He’s seeking to become the youngest winner at the Citi Open since Juan Martin del Potro, who was also 19 years old, won in 2008.

About 90 minutes after he won his singles match, Sinner played in the doubles semifinal alongside Sebasitan Korda. The duo fell to Neal Skupski and Michael Venus 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday night.

Though he played in two matches on Saturday, Sinner doesn’t think it’ll affect his play in Sunday’s final. 

“I’m just going to eat and going to bed,” Sinner said. “There is a lot of time, and, I mean, I’m 19 years old, so I can recover quite fast.”

In the other singles semifinal, Mackenzie McDonald knocked off Kei Nishikori 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 to move on to face Sinner in Sunday’s final. 

“I feel like physically it was tough,” McDonald said. “Physically, especially in the third, it was getting — I could tell both of us were digging deep in there.”

Nishikori and McDonald battled in the first set, trading games back and forth until McDonald won three of the last four to take the opening frame. 

Following the opening set battle, it appeared as if McDonald was going to roll into the final as he won the three points in a row after dropping the first two. Nishikori had other plans, winning the final four games to even the match at one set apiece. 

In the final set, Nishikori and McDonald traded blows again, but McDonald was able to close the door, winning the final two games. 

During his run to his first-career ATP final, McDonald knocked off Nick Kyrgios, the defending Citi Open champion, in the first round and then Nishikori, the 2015 tournament winner, in the semifinal. 

McDonald said being able to keep his composure and staying focused allowed him to get one step closer to his goal of winning an ATP event. 

“My biggest goal, results-wise, I wrote down, was win a 250 and ATP title,” McDonald said. “This is one step closer that I haven’t been to that.”

On Sunday, McDonald will look to become the first American to win the singles title since Andy Roddick won the event in 2007.

In the other doubles semifinal match, Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan advanced to the final with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Melo. 

The doubles final is set for 2 p.m. and the singles final is set for 5 p.m. at the Stadium Court on Sunday.

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