(August 8, 2021) Nineteen-year old Italian Jannik Sinner became the first teenager to win an ATP 500 event when he defeated Mackenzie McDonald of the U. S. 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 to win the Citi Open title in Washington D.C. on Sunday evening.
The nearly three-hour battle was a contest of wills. Sinner needed 11 set points to claim the first set. In the third set Sinner had 5-2 lead with two match points but McDonald roared back to level the set at 5-5 before Sinner broke his opponent’s serve to end the match.
“It was a little bit of a roller coaster, to be honest, because I started well in the third set,” Sinner said. “I tried to going a little bit up with the rhythm, trying to play a little bit faster. I broke him like this. And then trying to serve it out I had before two match points, and then after, I was not serving well. He was returning well.
“I missed a couple of backhands and, you know, I think we both were there and, you know, trying to stay mentally strong and obviously physically if you’re playing nearly three hours. I played doubles as well this week.”
“I dug as deep as I could,” he said during the trophy ceremony. “Obviously, Jannik is a great young player and he pushed me really hard today, and I think I left it all out there.”
“I feel like next time I want to put myself in a better position than just kind of fighting for my life every other minute,” McDonald said.
“Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, you know, I gave my best. I mean, he put a lot of pressure on me. Again, I wish I just could have been up in more of those games so I wasn’t in those holes. But I mean, you know, I fought really hard, so it was good.”
“I’d say it was a super tough match today,” noted the American. “Jannik is a great player, very professional, very young and up-and-coming guy. Yeah, he’s going to win a lot of tournaments.
“I’m happy with how I competed, how I played. You know, I feel like I really put everything out there. Maybe could have played a little bit better at times and served a little bit better, in my opinion. But I did everything I could expect of myself, and I’m very happy with the week overall and my progress as a player.”
This was Sinner’s third ATP title and for McDonald, this was his first ATP final. Sinner will see his ranking jump up into the Top 15. McDonald will rise up from No. 107 to No. 67 in the world.
“It’s been a great week,”said McDonald. “Building, ranking’s getting in the right direction, getting better as a player. Little cliché, but that’s the most important, and the results will take care of itself.
“I’m still going to be out for my first title, but this is definitely a step in the right direction, having been in a final before, and now I can say I did it at 500. I’m going to keep building until I get a title.”
“When you see somebody is the youngest or whatever, I don’t put much weight on that,” said the fifth-seeded Sinner to media. “You know, there are a lot of players who have done much, much better than me. It’s not about, you know, who is the youngest or whatever.
“I just want to improve, working hard. I have my team which is always behind me, giving me tips, and, yeah, trying to win matches.
“If there you have some good weeks like this, and before this week I didn’t have so many great weeks. I lost first rounds for three or four times. So, you know, it’s things what 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 doesn’t mean everything. My mindset, I’m already for the next tournament.”
Sinner will be celebrating his 20th birthday on August 16.