On a picture-perfect Wednesday in Tennis Paradise, Italy’s Jannik Sinner took to the courts in the desert for his first match at his Oracle Challenger Series debut. While undoubtedly a pre-tournament favorite, few could have predicted the utter dominance that the World No. 71 displayed in his opening match.
Sinner began his quest for an Oracle Challenger Series title against Frenchman Sem Verbeek, and nearly managed to win every game of the match. Ultimately, the 2019 ATP Tour Newcomer of the Year triumphed 6-0, 6-1 in just 45 minutes on court. At just 18-years-old, the Italian phenom looks primed for a coming out party in the desert.
Next up for Sinner is his first ranked opponent, as he meets No. 11 seed Dennis Kudla with a spot in the fourth round on the line.
On Court 5, Marcos Giron became the first American winner of the day as he downed Great Britain’s Ryan Peniston 6-2, 7-6(4). It’s already been a tremendous week in the desert for Giron, as he clinched the first BNP Paribas Open main draw wild card with Tuesday’s results on the men’s side.
With impressive performances throughout the 2019-2020 Oracle Challenger Series including making the finals in New Haven and winning the title in Houston, Giron will look to make a deep run in the desert – on both the Challenger and Premier Mandatory stages.
Another American men’s winner joined the field of victors on Wednesday, as World No. 75 Steve Johnson defeated Australian Marc Polmans 6-1, 3-6, 6-2. Competing in his second consecutive Oracle Challenger Series event after reaching the quarterfinals in Newport Beach, Johnson is certainly a favorite to win the title among the remaining men’s seeds.
A Southern California native, Johnson would love nothing more than to end his week in the local desert by lifting the Challenger Series trophy. To keep that dream alive, he’ll have to beat No. 12 seed Taro Daniel in the third round.
18-year-old Brandon Nakashima continued his dream start to the season, overpowering No. 7 seed Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-2 in spectacular fashion. While many assumed that Nakashima’s first seeded opponent would bring an end to his time in the desert, he proved he had more than enough to handle the Japanese Tour veteran.
Next, the upstart American will take on another seed in No. 10 Salvatore Caruso with a spot in the fourth round at stake.
The American victories continued to roll into the afternoon, as former USC Trojan Raymond Sarmiento continued to make a name for himself on the Oracle Challenger Series circuit with an impressive 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 upset of Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk. After reaching the third round of January’s Newport Beach event, Sarmiento will look for an even better finish when he takes the court next in the desert against fellow countryman Noah Rubin.