In front of a partisan home crowd, the eighth seeded Jannik Sinner swept aside the top seed and favourite Alex de Minaur in just over an hour to claim the NextGen ATP Finals in Milan.
I tried to play my game, not make unforced errors, which today I didn't make a lot so I'm very happy. Jannik Sinner
The 18-year-old Italian saved nine break points as he swept to a well earned 4-2 4-1 4-2 victory in the 21-and under event which features short set scoring.
For De Minaur, world ranked 18, the loss was a disappointment as he lost to Stefanos Tstsipas in the final last year as well.
The event was launched by the ATP in 2017 to promote the best eight players aged 21-and-under on the ATP Tour.
This year the top two players fitting that bill were absent, with Greece’s Tsitsipas playing the ATP Tour Finals in London next week, while world number 15 Denis Shapovalov withdrew following his run to the Paris Masters final last week, leaving a vacancy for Sinner to join the party a just reward for the Italian who started the year at 551 and risen to 95.
As the wild card and youngest competitor in the field, he took full advantage of the opportunity coming through the group stages with two wins against one loss to qualify for the knockout stage where he knocked out another fast-rising star, Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, recovering from dropping the first set to secure 2-4 4-1 4-2 4-2 victory.
In the final itself, Sinner brushed aside his Australian rival in what was their first meeting, breaking De Minaur who has been dubbed ‘Speed Demon’, in the sixth game and holding off break points in in the first game of the second.
Hitting two aces he converted three of his eight break point opportunities to wrap up the match to love when the Aussie struck a return of serve into the net.
Sinner collected a winner’s cheque of $372 000 which more than doubled his earnings for the year.
“I don’t have words. I just tried to hit the ball,” Sinner told Amazon Prime.
“He (de Minaur) is an unbelievable player, he’s so fast.
“I tried to play my game, not make unforced errors, which today I didn’t make a lot so I’m very happy.”
Asked if it was his best ever performance, Sinner replied: “Maybe yes.
“This week has been unbelievable.”
Meanwhile De Minaur, who arrived in the final with a 4-0 record, picked up a consolation $295,000 as he rued the missed opportunities.
“It’s a pretty simple match to evaluate,” he said, “I had nine break points and I wasn’t able to convert any of them.
“Jannik played a really impressive match. He was putting me under pressure. In the end he just played too good.”