ITALIAN young gun Jannik Sinner has booked his spot in the 2021 Barcelona Open ATP 500 event after defeating the red-hot Andrey Rublev in straight sets. Rublev has been huge at ATP 500 events over the past 18 months, claiming four titles at the level, but it was Sinner who stepped up to knock off the third seed Russian 6-2 7-6 and make his way into the semi-finals.
It was far from his own way, with Sinner needing one hour and 36 minutes to claim victory, including going deep in the second set tiebreaker to salute 8-6 in a nail-biter. Sinner won 63 and 61 per cent of his first and second serves respectively off a 59 per cent clip. Rublev managed the 66 per cent off his first serve, but only 44 per cent off his second, broken three times to one during the match.
“I am trying to get better every week,” Sinner said post-match. “He has played many, many matches already this year and I tried to play my tennis. It was difficult to finish it off. I had three break points at 5-5 [in the second set], which I could not convert, but I’m pleased to win in the end. I am getting more experience in every tournament I play.”
Sinner becomes the youngest Barcelona semi-finalist since 2005 as an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal went on to win the first of his 11 titles. Next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas after the second seed claimed a 6-3 6-3 triumph over Canadian 10th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to make it eight unbeaten matches – and 14 consecutive sets – on Tour.
“I think my hard efforts paid off,” Tsitsipas said post-match. “I wouldn’t say it was the best start, but I managed to win my serve from 0/40 down [in the second game]. That got me into the match and that helped me to break him at the end. I didn’t panic, but I knew what I was doing. It feels good to be able to play the way I am. I really hope the winning streak continues.”
The other semi-final will be an all-Spanish affair with top seed Rafael Nadal and sixth seed Pablo Carreno Busta making it through in very different circumstances. After struggling through back-to-back three-set wins, Nadal breezed past Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-1 6-4, while Carreno Busta needed the three sets to shake off fourth seed Diego Schwartzman in the match of the day. Carreno Busta won 6-4 3-6 7-5.
Meanwhile over in Serbia, Novak Djokovic did not hold back against friend Miomir Kemanovic, dismissing the eighth seed Serbian in straight sets. The world number one claimed a 6-1 6-3 quarter finals victory to book his spot in the semis, in what was a largely predictable day of action. Second seed Matteo Berrettini defeated fifth seed Serbian Filip Krajinovic in straight sets 6-4 6-4, while third seed Aslan Karatsev knocked off Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager, 6-3 6-4. The biggest upset and run of the tournament is lucky loser Taro Daniel who came from behind to knock off Argentinian Federico Delbonis and book his spot in the final four with a 4-6 6-1 7-5 win.
BARCELONA OPEN QUARTER FINALS RESULTS:
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated Cameron Norrie (GBR) 6-1 6-4
 Stefanos Tsitsipas (GER) defeated  Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 6-3 6-3
 Jannik Sinner (ITA) defeated  Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2 7-6
 Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated  Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-4 3-6 7-5
SERBIA OPEN QUARTER FINALS:
 Novak Djokovic (SRB) defeated  Miomir Kecmanovic (SRB) 6-1 6-3
 Matteo Berrettini (ITA) defeated  Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 6-4 6-4
 Aslan Karatsev (RUS) defeated [Q] Gianluca Mager (ITA) 6-3 6-4
[LL] Taro Daniel (JPN) defeated Federico Delbonis (ARG) 4-6 6-1 7-5
Picture credit: ATP Tour