On Tuesday, July 11, the men’s quarterfinals began at Wimbledon. In one of the meetings the Russian tennis player Roman Safiullin and the representative of Italy Yannick Sinner met. The 21-year-old Sinner’s launch into the top eight wasn’t much of a surprise. In the end, it seems that the eighth seed is supposed to do this according to the status. But the 25-year-old Safiullin’s appearance in the quarterfinals was a welcome surprise.
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The most difficult match of this Wimbledon, Safiullin, who got into the main draw by rating, without having to pass ratings, passed in the first round. The Russian, ranked 92 in the ATP ranking, fought twice in a duel with the 20th seed Roberto Bautista-Agut (who regularly beats Daniil Medvedev), and in the fifth set he proved his superiority – 2:6, 7 :6, 6:7, 6:4, 7:5. Frenchman Corentin Moutet and Argentine Guido Pellew Roman passed without losing sets, and in the round of 16 with Denis Shapovalov (26) he again had to recover – 3:6, 6:3, 6:1, 6:3. Sinner’s network was easier: Argentine Juan Manuel Serundolo, his compatriot Diego Schwartzman, Frenchman Kenten Alice and Colombian Daniel Galán. As a result, the Italian dropped just one set in four matches.
Recently, the rumor that Carlos Alcaraz and Yannick Sinner are the main stars of the new generation has somehow died down. No, there are no questions for Alcaraz. He already won the TBSH (US Open 2022), and it was the first racket in the world (and now it is). Questions for the sinner. Despite his obvious talent, the Italian has never reached the semifinals in previous majors, although he did reach the quarterfinals five times. Yes, and Yannick is still very, very far from the title of the first racket in the world: he has not yet risen above eighth place. Safiullin had nothing to lose. For the first time reaching the quarterfinals of the TBSH (before that, the second round was the maximum), Román already exceeded all expectations. So if anyone should be under pressure, it’s Sinner.
Yannick Sinner plays at Wimbledon 2023
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
What was said before the game.
Previously, Sinner and Safiullin have already faced each other on the court. They played at the ATP Cup – 2022, and Yannick won there with a score of 7:6 (8:6), 6:3, and the match lasted almost two hours. Before the second meeting, Román remembered that game. “We played him last year at the ATP Cup, he was my first top 10 opponent. A very tough match. I remember that in the first set I managed to create problems for him. I hope to take note of that match and improve tactics and my game for the next match, ”he said at a press conference after winning the 1/8 final at Wimbledon. Sinner compared Safiullin’s breakthrough to Aslan Karatsev’s performance at the 2021 Australian Open: the Russian sensationally reached the semifinals. “His story about him reminds me of Karatsev’s path to the Australian Open in 2021. He reaches this stage of the tournament without defeats, he plays with a lot of freedom. He plays very, very good tennis. I played him a year ago at the ATP Cup. It was a very, very difficult match. I need to be ready for the next meeting. Obviously, you also have to prepare yourself mentally, because this time could be different. But of course I’m happy to be where I am. I hope I can show good tennis. We need to increase the level of our game with respect to the base, and then we will see what happens”, said the Italian at a press conference.
And 1995 Davis Cup finalist Andrei Chesnokov compared Safiullin, after he bested Shapovalov, to three-time TBS champion Andy Murray himself. “Safiullin is just a hero. Roman served in the second set with a score of 5:3. The ninth game, which the tennis players played for 15 minutes, became the key. Then, quite confidently, he led the game to victory. He plays like Andy Murray: the opponent put pressure on him, but he played even better, even sharper. At the beginning of his career, Roman was injured and it was not clear whether he would continue to play or not, but now he just flies around the court, ”TASS quotes Chesnokov.
Roman Safiullin plays at Wimbledon 2023
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Safiullin entered the game confident. The first two games in his field, he took them to zero and tried unsuccessfully to score points at the reception. So the score became 2-2, and in the fifth game, Sinner got break points, but missed both chances. But in the ninth game, when the score was already 4:4, the Italian made a break, giving the opponent only a draw. After that, Yannick called for a set below zero – 6:4.
In the second set, the advantage was initially on Sinner’s side. In the third game, he brought another shot to zero, after which he took his own game, also without giving up a single point (Safiullin had a double at break point), -3:1. It seemed that in this game the Italian would not miss his own. But the Russian had a different opinion. Roman took five games in a row, made two breaks and won the set! Yannick in this segment could not oppose anything to the rival. The sixth game became the key of this series, when Safiullin hit a triple break point and made it on the third attempt, equalizing the score – 3:3. Roman made the second break in the eighth game, after which he called for a set below zero – 6: 3.
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At the start of the third set, Sinner was looking a little better. The Italian took his serve with confidence, and in the service games Safiullina had break points (in the fourth game, Román committed two double faults), but missed all three chances. And after the score was 2:2, Yannick’s advantage began to show on the scoreboard. He took four games in a row – the Russian was unsuccessful in this game, 6: 2 in favor of his opponent. In this set, Sinner led three games on his shot to love, while Roman had five double faults. The Italian was better in both winners (12 against six) and unforced (four against 10).
In the fourth set, Safiullin tried to hold on to the opponent’s serve in the first game, but missed a break point. The next break point came in game six at Sinner. The Italian was able to notice and led 4:2; in fact, the same thing happened as in the third installment. Then Yannick took his serve (5:2), and in the eighth game he won a match point on the reception and used it immediately: 6:4, 3:6, 6:2, 6:2 in 2 hours and 17 minutes. .
So, Sinner for the first time in his career reached the Wimbledon semifinals (and, in general, for the first time in the TBS semifinals). At this stage, he will play the winner of the matchup Andrei Rublev (Russia, 7)-Novak Djokovic (Serbia, 2). As for Safiullin, next Monday he will rise from 92nd place in the ATP ranking to 43rd. This is the greatest achievement in his career.