Jannik Sinner is destined for great things. At 19-years of age the young Italian has already pocketed two titles on the ATP Tour and is currently the youngest player in the top 100 of the world rankings where he is comfortably positioned at 28.
It is [difficult to keep your concentration against Bublik] because, at the point when you think you are playing good, he is doing something to take out your rhythm. It is strange because he has incredible hands and I think he is one of the most talented guys on Tour. He can do whatever he wants with the ball. A match against him can change very quickly Yannik Sinner
His precocious talent came to the fore during his quarter-final clash with Alexander Bublik for whatever the 23-year-old Kazak threw at the teenager, he came up with the answer to make the semi-finals of his first Masters 1000 event.
Sinner secured his place after one-hour and 41-minutes, dispatching Bublik 7-6(5) 6-4 to emulate his countryman Fabio Fognini who also reached the last four in Miami in 2017.
Bublic made the first move by going a break up to take a 2-1 lead in the opening set and held off three break points as Sinner attempted to get back on serve.
He eventually did in the 10th game and while both had chances to break in the next two games it was left to the tie-break to settle the score.
Again it was Bublik who took his early chances to earn two mini-breaks for a 4-1 lead only to find himself hauled back yet again by the Sinner forehand which produced three consecutive winners to snatch the tie break 7-5.
Bublik’s response at losing the first set was to stave off break points in the opening game of the second and then capturing Sinner’s serve to take a 3-0 lead. Again the teenager struck back and then held off five break points to level at 3-3 leaving Bublik wondering what he could do to squash the Italian prodigy after Sinner broke in the ninth game aided by two Kazak double-faults and then sealed his spot on his first match point with another of his forehands, his 36th winner of the match.
It was Sinner’s second win over Bublik having beaten him over three sets in Dubai and Sinner was again happy with his performance.
“We had a tough battle two weeks ago in Dubai. It was tough here today as well. It was strange today – he was changing the game. I just tried to stay here, stick into the match and I am happy about my performance today, but the tournament is not over”, said Sinner.
“It is [difficult to keep your concentration against Bublik] because, at the point when you think you are playing good, he is doing something to take out your rhythm,” Sinner added.
“It is strange because he has incredible hands and I think he is one of the most talented guys on Tour. He can do whatever he wants with the ball. A match against him can change very quickly.”
Bublik though just couldn’t quite believe he had suffered a loss considering what he had thrown at the youngster – underarm serves, weak returns and rushed attacks – but he hadn’t been able to disturb the composure of his opponent.
At the matches conclusion, Bublik asked whether Sinner was a human leading to the teenager asking in return and with a laugh, whether he himself was!
“You are not a human, man,” Bublik repeated. “You are 15 years old and you play like this. Good job.”
But while he might have got his opponent’s age wrong, Bublik repeated his description of the teenager during the post-match press conference.
“He’s not [human]. That’s a fact,” said Bublik as reported by the ATP Tour. “I asked him if he’s a human or not, because for me, it’s very surprising that the guy at his age has this mental toughness that many, many other players don’t have. I called him a robot a couple of times during the match, but I do it in a very sincere way because he’s a really, really a great player.”
He pointed out that on three occasions during the match, he had found himself ahead only to be suddenly pulled back with what is becoming Sinner’s trademark forehand.
“I played him in a very crucial moment in the tie-break… and [he] pulled off [two] incredible shots when it was 5/4,” Bublik recollected.
“Every time when I had a big point, either I needed to go super crazy like I was doing with the forehand and just [go for a] shot that goes in with a five per cent chance, or he’s playing really unbelievable.
“That’s why I asked him if he’s even a human. He asked me if I’m a human. Of course, I am. I make double faults when I’m break point down because I get a little bit tight!”
Sinner will face top seed Daniil Medvedev or Roberto Bautista Agut for a place in Sunday’s final. He has yet to beat the Russian world No.2 having lost both their previous meetings but he has a winning record against the Spaniard achieved in Dubai a few weeks back.
“I am very happy [to be] playing one more match here in Miami,” said Sinner. “I think both [players] are very, very difficult players to play against.”