VIENNA, Austria – One was expected, the other not really. Frances Tiafoe, out of qualifying and who unexpectedly triumphed over Italian Jannik Sinner on Saturday, will face world No.4 Alexander Zverev on Sunday in the final of the ATP 500 tournament in Vienna.
The American, 49th in the world and already falling this week of the No. 1 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman, made an improbable return to the semi-finals against Sinner, 11th in the world.
Led 6-3, 5-2, he managed to completely reverse the court of the match while the Italian, recent winner of the Sofia and Antwerp indoor tournaments and who had not lost a single set in Vienna, was used to win the game.
Completely relaxed, Tiafoe then chained 5 games in a row to equalize one round everywhere, before making spectacular shots to completely disrupt the Italian machine.
In the last round, the 23-year-old American continued his festival against Sinner, still combative, but rendered powerless in the face of so much success, to finally win in 2:19, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 .
“The public made the difference”
“I tried to have fun and rally the public to my cause. (…) I can do that, all you have to do is make a few jokes … And then I started playing in an incredible way, Tiafoe commented at the end of the match. The audience really made a difference. Thanks to them, I started to lock the game, (…) while he got more nervous. “
With this victory, the American deprives Sinner of the virtual certainty of accessing the Masters at the end of the year, which brings together the eight best players of the year. Currently 8th in the Race with 3015 points, the Italian is still in the race but he could have passed Casper Ruud (7th, 3105), whom he beat in the quarter-finals, in case of victory. Instead, he remains under the direct threat of Hubert Hurkacz (2955 pts).
But he will nevertheless be able to console himself a little on Monday when the next ATP ranking is published by making his entry into the world for the first time. top-10 world (9th).
On Sunday, Tiafoe will try to win the second title of his career, after Delray Beach in 2018.
Facing him, he will find another strong man of the year: the German Alexander Zverev, world No. 4, who beat the young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the semifinals in straight sets (6-3, 6-3).
After having to work in the previous round to get rid of the Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, Zverev was more domineering on Saturday to put an end to the beautiful run of Alcaraz, the new phenomenon of the circuit, aged only 18 years.
The Spaniard, who was playing his first semi-final of an ATP 500 tournament, gave in on an ace from his opponent after 1:08 of play.
Zverev, Olympic champion in Tokyo this summer, has won all the finals he has played this year. He will try Sunday to win his 5th coronation of the year and the 18th of his career.