No matter where he plays when it's summer, Jannik Sinner seems to enjoy it. His Australian summer saw him capture his first title of the year at Melbourne 1. Now in the American summer, he has a title in Atlanta with Reilly Opelka and now a finals appearance at the Citi Open in Washington DC. His game heats up even more when the weather heats up.
His opponent for the final, Mackenzie McDonald, is in newfound territory after earning a spot in his first tour-level final by defeating Kei Nishikori in three sets. The American, ranked outside the top 100, has played since the first round of the tournament and is looking to cap it off with a maiden tour title.
Sinner's Road To The Final
The young Italian has yet to drop a set en route to the final. After a bye as one of the top 16 seeds, the fifth seed took out Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round. He followed that up by defeating Sebastian Korda, who was his doubles partner for the week in two tiebreak sets.
A straightforward win over Steve Johnson in the quarterfinals setup a showdown with American wildcard Jenson Brooksby, who was enjoying the best tournament of his young career. After a tight first set which saw a tiebreak, Sinner rolled in set two, booking his spot in the final.
McDonald's Road To The Final
The former UCLA tennis star met defending champion Nick Kyrgios in his opener and took out the defending champ to kick off his proceedings. He would have to come from behind to knock off Benoit Paire in the second round but kept it simple with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Ilya Ivashka.
In an all-American quarterfinal matchup, McDonald took out local favorite Denis Kudla before taking out Nishikori today.
While McDonald is known for his movement around the court and his never-say-die demeanor, Sinner also moves around the court very well also. Multiple players and coaches have praised the movement of the 19-year-old, with his lateral movement being the highlight, due to his background in skiing.
The difference between these two players though comes in the power department. Sinner has registered one of the fastest average backhands on tour and his forehand can also generate lots of power as well.
The competitiveness of this final will hinge on how well McDonald copes with the atmosphere of his first tour-level final. If he doesn't feel the nerves and keeps playing how he has been, we should be in for a good final. If not, it could be one-way traffic for the Italian.
Even without the potential of nerves on the American's side, Sinner has looked so good all week and has even served quite well too. As the seeded player and having not dropped a set at all this week, Sinner should be the favorite. However, McDonald will want to show what he's made of after this dream run he's had so far.
Prediction: Sinner in straight sets