Jannik Sinner wasted two match points when he went down against Germany’s Daniel Altmaier 6-7(0) 7-6(7) 1-6 7-6(4) 7-5 in a second-round thriller on Thursday eliminated the French Open.
The red-haired Italian, who is often cheered on by six fans dressed as carrots – the Carota boys – and was seen in Vienna snacking on carrots on the pitch, wasn’t his dominant self when he retired after five hours and 26 minutes.
While Sinner’s hard-hitting approach works on hard courts, he struggles on the slowest surface, which proves more challenging, and was eventually worn down by the world No. 79, who won on his fifth match point on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
After a break change, the first set was decided in the tie-break, in which Sinner won all points.
The second set was a copy of the first until the tie break, which Altmaier dominated and won most of the long rallies.
It looked like the Italian would progress to the next round as he prevailed in the third set, but his efforts paid off in the fourth set, trailing 3-0. However, he recovered and took a 5-4 lead.
Then Sinner wasted two match points – one when Altmaier’s pass hit the net and caught him off guard – while the German stole serve again and sent the game into the decider.
Altmaier, who reached the quarter-finals in Madrid this year and the round of 16 in Roland Garros in 2020, served twice in the match and finally shook off his nerves to end it with an ace.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, he returned to his chair before saying, “I love the game of tennis. Over the past few months, my team and I have put so much effort together.
“We’re playing here, but we have strong teams behind us, so this win is a team effort.”
Last year’s runner-up Casper Ruud showed his style at the French Open before the fourth-seeded man showed Stahl to defeat Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 defeat and move into the third round on Thursday.
Lending a touch of flair to Court Philippe Chatrier in his classy blue pinstripe shorts, the Norwegian barely let his lines open early on, forcing an inexperienced Zeppieri into a corner by pushing him from the baseline.
Ruud’s performance on clay has been faltering this year but the Estoril champion made quick work of the opener under the Parisian sun after Zeppieri’s long forehand shot gave him the decisive break.
The world number four sped through the next set to double his lead while left-hander Zeppieri dished out the errors in a nervous display before regaining his composure to push Ruud back.
“In a normal game I would have won 6-3 and 6-2, but here you have the chance to fight like him,” said Ruud on the pitch.
“He played much better in the third and fourth sets and it became very difficult.”
Ruud’s superb coverage saw him take a 3-2 lead in the fourth set, but Zeppieri hit back to make it 5-5 with a fiery inside-out winner, but then gave up the serve immediately, allowing Ruud the win.
Ruud, who lost to Rafa Nadal in the 2022 title fight, will next face Argentina qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante or China’s Zhizhen Zhang and the 24-year-old said he was looking forward to recharging his batteries.
“Days off are nice, of course you try to relax as much as possible, especially at night,” Ruud told reporters.
“In the evening I like to switch off a movie. During Grand Slams I spend a few hours in bed watching movies. I think it’s nice and fun to just step away from everything.
“Whenever I’m on site and on the pitch, it’s all about business.”