Jannik Sinner had his back against the wall Friday in Miami, but he powered off it to avoid an upset.
Emil Ruusuvuori served for their second-round clash and held three match points in the ensuing tie-break, but Sinner rallied for a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(8) victory to reach the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.
“It was a tough match today. I was a little bit lucky, because 7-6 in the third you need some luck, also,” Sinner told ATPTour.com. “I think he played very well, especially from the second set on. I tried to deal with the conditions, I tried to fight with what I had today and I am very happy about the win.”
Ruusuvuori is a talented ball-striker who was not afraid of taking it to the star Italian, who competed in last year’s Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate. But it was Sinner who struck biggest when it mattered most, hitting a massive forehand return at 9/8 in the final-set tie-break to triumph after two hours and 40 minutes.
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His Finnish opponent served for the match at 5-4 in the decider, but dropped serve at love. Instead of capitulating, Ruusuvuori positioned himself well in the tie-break, earning match points at 6/5, 7/6 and 8/7. But Sinner forced the World No. 71 to come up with a special shot in those moments, which he was unable to do.
The closest the Finn came to the upset was when he served at 7/6. Sinner hit a deep backhand that hit the baseline, and took control of the point from there. Sinner now leads Ruusuvuori 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, including a 6-3, 6-2 victory in Miami last year.
“It gives [me] a lot of confidence for sure, but there are some things [that] I have to work on,” Sinner said. “There are positive things, but also I have some things to improve. I think mentally I was strong today, but tennis-wise there are some things to improve.”
It will not get any easier for the 2021 finalist, who will next play former Top 10 star Pablo Carreno Busta. The Spaniard eliminated 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin 6-3, 6-2.