Pierre-Hugues Herbert suspected that his task would be complicated. But did he imagine it at this point? Faced with Jannik Sinner, 46th at ATP and one of the new nuggets of world tennis, the Alsatian could not do anything, or very little. Thursday, he could only save 4 games (6-3, 6-1 defeat) in just over an hour and a quarter (1:16 to be precise) in the second round of the second ATP 250 in Cologne. His young Italian executioner, who remained on a first quarter-final in the Grand Slam at Roland Garros, confirmed his very good dispositions of the moment and will try to rally the last four either against Gilles Simon or against Denis Shapovalov.
The match will have lasted 6 games. Surprised at the outset, Pierre-Hugues Herbert was first able to rebel: twice broken, he came back to height (3-3), showing also very good tactical options to counter the pure strikes of Jannik Sinner. In the backhand diagonal, the Frenchman seemed to be able to withstand the shock, even if it meant attracting his opponent to the net with a slice or a cushion. It is also thanks to a subtle sliced backhand lob that he validated his second breakthrough. But these flashes were in fact only sparks that the Italian tornado was going to take care of extinguishing.
And suddenly Sinner flew away
Admittedly, Herbert also helped his opponent well. A few gross faults, especially on attack forehands within reach, allowed Sinner to regain his distance in stride. But once launched, the Italian no longer looked in the rearview mirror. All in ease and power, he dominated the Alsatian from the bottom with so much consistency that he chained no less than 8 games from 3-3 to 6-3, 5-0. Herbert was notably stepped on on his second balls: 22% of points gained behind and even only 1 point in 8 in the second set (13%).
Visibly annoyed, Herbert generally lost the duels in the two diagonals when the exchange started. A few brilliant shots at the net could not erase the impression that there was a class of gap this Thursday between the two players. Already revealed indoors in Antwerp last year – he reached the semi-finals there by offering himself in particular Gaël Monfils – Sinner thus confirms that his powerful and aggressive tennis should wreak havoc indoors.