Altmaier finds faith to sink Sinner

AN INCREDIBLE comeback from the brink of defeat saw German Daniel Altmaier save two match points and topple Italian young gun Jannik Sinner in the second round of Roland Garros. The world number 79 German trailed two sets to one and was down 4-5 in the fourth, only to come back and win in a mindblowing five hours and 26 minutes.

Altmaier won the second set tiebreaker 9-7 after failing to score a point in the opening set tiebreaker, only for Sinner to run away with six of the next seven games and go two sets to one up. At that point, it was all clicking for the Italian who was strongly favoured to advance through to the third round. After breaking the German, Sinner served for the match and had two match points in the 10th game, but was unable to take his chances.

“Playing every point you can with the best effort, that’s what keeps you in reality,” Altmaier said post-match of those match points. “I was just thinking that, and the competition says it all. We’ve had historic matches with so many match points… I don’t know if you can call this an ‘historical’ match, but I think it was one to remember.”

From that point on, Altmaier managed to force the match into a third tiebreaker and again got the better of the eighth seed, winning 7-4. The fifth set was a continuation of the match itself as neither player was willing to give an inch. The first break came in the seventh game with Altmaier holding his nerve as Sinner committed back-to-back unforced errors.

Holding his own serve in the eighth game to go 5-3 up in the decider, the German had two chances to take the game out before Sinner levelled him. The Italian held well off a deuce game then forced two errors from Altaier and did not hold back as the German served for the match, hitting two winners to gain a couple of break points.

The world number 79 fought back to make it a deuce game, only for Sinner to fire off two forehand winners and break back at 5-5. The celebrations did not last long as Altmaier immediately broke back. Then, in a nervous final game that featured five match points for the underdog that lasted more than five minutes, Altmaier finished off the match with an ace, sending himself into the third round.

Altmaier only hit one less ace than Sinner (10-11) and two less winners (60-62), while having five less unforced errors (70-75) in an evenly contested match. Though Sinner broke once more (six of 21), Altmaier was more clinical with his chances (five of nine) and ground out a terrific and memorable win.

It was the second Top 10 win for Altmaier at Roland Garros who upset Matteo Berrettini en route to a Round of 16 effort back in 2020. His win followed on from a strong start to the clay season, and now he takes on Belarusian Grigor Dimitrov in the third round at Paris.

“In the past months, me and my team have been just putting so much effort in, all together,” Altmaier said. “I can just say to everybody that we play here, but behind us we have such a strong team. That’s why this victory is a team effort.”


Fourth seed Casper Ruud and ninth seed Taylor Fritz both needed four sets to get through to the third round, as did Fritz’s compatriot Frances Tiafoe who came back from a set down to knock off former Top 20 player Aslan Karatsev. Argentinian Tomas Etcheverry ended the run of 18th seed Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets, while Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka also eliminated Aussie Max Purcell in four sets.

In the women’s draw, Grand Slam winners Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina both cruised through to the third round, as did sixth seed Coco Gauff and seventh seed Ons Jabeur. Canadian Bianca Andreescu also continued her form, with only three total matches going the distance. American Kayla Day stunned 20th seed Madison Keys in three sets, while Bernarda Pera joined her in the third round with a hard-fought victory over Donna Vekic. Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia also needed three sets to overcome Diana Shnaider.

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