For any other player but Novak Djokovic, a below-par Australian Open at the age of 36 would have had pundits brushing up his tennis obituary. Djokovic, of course, is no ordinary player.
The Spanish star took a medical timeout, had the ankle taped and won the first game but after dropping his serve in the second game he called it quits, in another setback to a so-far disappointing 2024 campaign.
Patience is a virtue that Sinner does possess, and eventually that paid off.
Carlos Alcaraz rued missed opportunities after coming up short against Alexander Zverev in a thrilling Australian Open quarter-final early Thursday but said he could leave Melbourne with his head held high.
The German sixth seed eventually prevailed 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to make the last four at a Grand Slam for the seventh time.
"I did everything almost perfectly. In our Miami 2022 match it was closer. It was a good match today as well. I pushed him to the limit in every point," said Alcaraz, who set up a clash with sixth seed Alexander Zverev.
World number two Carlos Alcaraz dropped a set Thursday before rediscovering his mojo to battle into the Australian Open third round, coming good when it mattered.
The second seed, gunning to unseat 10-time champion Novak Djokovic from the world number one spot, was tested in a tight first set but then moved through the gears.