After going down to Jannik Sinner for the second time this month, Alexander Bublik couldn’t hide his admiration and said in jest that the 19-year-old Italian was, ‘not human.’
Bidding to reach his first semifinal at a Masters 1000 event, Bublik went down 6-7, 4-6 to Sinner in Miami on Wednesday. From underarm serves to sneak-attack returns, Bublik left no stone unturned, but was still outplayed by the youngster.
After match point, Bublik could not resist asking his opponent one simple question. Are you human? Sinner laughed at his opponent’s inquiry, before telling the unorthodox 23-year-old he was not human himself.
"You're not a human! You're 15 years old and you play like this." 😂
It's all respect between Alexander Bublik & @janniksin🤝
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 31, 2021
“You are not a human, man,” Bublik repeated. “You are 15 years old and you play like this. Good job.”
Sinner may not be 15 years old but, at 19, he is just the eighth teenager to reach the semi-finals in the tournament’s 36-year history.
Five of those men, Andre Agassi (1990), Lleyton Hewitt (2000), Rafael Nadal (2005), Novak Djokovic (2007) and Andy Murray (2007) have gone on to top the FedEx ATP Rankings.
In his post-match press conference, Bublik piled praise on his opponent and gave some insight into the pair’s humerous net exchange.
“He’s not [human]. That’s a fact,” said Bublik.
“I asked him if he’s a human or not, because for me, it’s very surprising that the guy at his age has this mental toughness that many, many other players don’t have.
“I called him a robot a couple of times during the match, but I do it in a very sincere way because he’s a really, really a great player.”
Throughout the match, Bublik placed the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion under consistent pressure.
Sinner trailed 3-5 in the first set, 0/3 in the tie-break and 0-3 in the second set, but he maintained his belief and trusted his forehand to turn the match in his favour.
“I played him in a very crucial moment in the tie-break… and [he] pulled off [two] incredible shots when it was 5/4,” said Bublik.
“Every time when I had a big point, either I needed to go super crazy like I was doing with the forehand and just [go for a] shot that goes in with a five per cent chance, or he’s playing really unbelievable.
“That’s why I asked him if he’s even a human. He asked me if I’m a human. Of course, I am. I make double faults when I’m break point down because I get a little bit tight.”
Two years ago, Sinner was ranked No. 322 in ATP Rankings.
“He’s just strong. He’s mentally strong, he’s physically strong. He’s a great player,” said Bublik.
“As you can see, he’s 19 years old, and he’s making this impact on the Tour. He doesn’t really fall. I’m very happy [with] the way I played, and I’m happy for the guy. It’s cool [to see] some young ones rising. It’s nice.”