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Sinner Survives Three-Set Thriller against McDonald in Washington, D.C. Tennis Final

Nineteen-year-old Jannik Sinner defeated Mackenzie McDonald in the Citi Open final becoming the youngest ATP 500-level winner in history. Photo credit: Citi Open Facebook

By Ricky Dimon

Jannik Sinner won the Citi Open–an ATP 500 tournament–on Sunday evening, outlasting Mackenzie McDonald 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and 52 minutes.

It is the biggest title of the 19-year-old’s career; he was previously 2-1 lifetime in ATP finals (2-0 at the 250 level plus a loss at the Miami Masters to Hubert Hurkacz earlier this season). Sinner also becomes the youngest player to win a 500 event since that level was introduced on tour in 2009.

“When you see somebody is the youngest or whatever, I don’t put much weight on that,” the Italian said in his post-match press conference. “You know, there are a lot of players who have done much, much better than me. It’s not about who is the youngest or whatever. I just want to improve (by) working hard. I have my team which is always behind me, giving me tips, and trying to win matches.”

Sinner had to do it the hard way to win on Sunday. McDonald saved a total of 10 set points in the first set, doing so in two different games. The 26-year-old American also battled back from a 5-2 deficit in the third to pull even at 5-5, fighting off two championship points in the process. At 5-6, however, McDonald finally faltered and Sinner got across the finish line by converting his 21st break point of the contest.

“I dug as deep as I could,” first-time ATP finalist McDonald said during the trophy ceremony. “I left it all out there, so I’m pretty happy with my performance.”

“I dug as deep as I could,” first-time ATP finalist Mackenzie McDonald said. Photo credit: Citi Open Facebook

For Sinner, it was a much-needed performance. The now-world No. 15 struggled throughout the grass-court swing and also lost his opening singles match in Atlanta (but he at least captured the doubles title in Atlanta).

“You have some good weeks like this, and before this week I didn’t have so many great weeks,” Sinner reflected. “I lost first rounds for three or four times. It’s things [that] a 19 or 20-year-old is doing. You cannot be that consistent at that age when you, like another guy is already 25, 26 and already in the top of the game.

“So obviously I’m very, very happy about this tournament and win today. But, you know, I’m not looking if I’m the youngest, whatever, because the road is long. Yeah, the goals and everything, I still have to do everything, to be honest. I mean, okay, I won three titles but (that) doesn’t mean everything. My mindset: I’m already for the next tournament.”

For Sinner, McDonald, and most of the Washington, D.C. field, the next tournament is the Toronto Masters 1000 beginning on Monday.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.