Jannik Sinner loses French Open five-setter to Daniel Altmaier

PARIS -- Jannik Sinner wasted two match points as he was knocked out of the French Open 6-7 (0), 7-6 (7), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 in a second-round thriller against German Daniel Altmaier on Thursday.

Sinner, a red-haired Italian who is often cheered on by six fans dressed as carrots -- the Carota boys -- and was spotted eating carrots as an on-court snack in Vienna, was not his dominant self as he bowed out after 5 hours, 26 minutes.

In other matches, No. 4 Casper Ruud, No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 15 Borna Coric all won.

The No. 8-seeded Sinner, whose best performance at Roland Garros came in 2020 when he lost in the quarterfinals to Rafael Nadal, looked set for a no-nonsense win after cruising through the third set, but Altmaier had other ideas.

While Sinner's hard-hitting approach works on hard courts, he struggles on the slower clay surface and was eventually worn down by the world No. 79, who won with an 111 mph ace on his fifth match point on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

"I don't know if you can call it a historical match," Altmaier said as he wiped away tears, "but I think it was one to remember."

After an exchange of breaks, the first set was decided in a tiebreak in which Sinner won all the points. The second set was a carbon copy of the first until the tiebreak, which Altmaier dominated, winning most of the long rallies.

It looked like Sinner would hop into the next round as he blazed through the third set, but he paid for his efforts in the fourth, finding himself trailing 3-0. Sinner rallied back and broke for 5-4 then wasted two match points -- one when Altmaier's passing shot clipped the net and took him by surprise -- as the German player stole his serve again to send the match into a decider.

"Usually I'm smiling inside, and that was not the case today. My attitude was not right. I did things I don't usually do," said Sinner, who at one point smashed his racket onto the court. "This year I have this goal to qualify for [the ATP Finals in] Turin, and maybe I put too much pressure on myself, having this objective. So maybe I need to change my mindset."

Altmaier, who reached the quarterfinals in Madrid this year and the last 16 at Roland Garros in 2020, served twice for the match, eventually shaking off his nerves to end it with an ace.

He went back to his chair as tears rolled down his cheeks.

"I love the game of tennis. In the past months, me, my team, we put so much effort all together," Altmaier said. "We play here, but behind us we have strong teams. That's why this victory is a team effort."

Ruud stayed on course to reach consecutive French Open finals, looking solid for much of his 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

"It was a tough match," Ruud said. "I started well, got a break early and served well myself. That's the beauty of best-of-five sets. In a normal match I would have won 6-3, 6-2, but here you have the chance to fight like he did.

"He played much better in the third set and the fourth set, and it became very tough."

Fritz, Tiafoe and fellow American Marcos Giron all reached the third round with wins, while No. 16 seed Tommy Paul tumbled with a 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 5-7 loss to Chile's Nicolas Jarry.

Fritz dropped the first set en route to a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 victory over France's Arthur Rinderknech.

Tiafoe took four sets to oust Russian Aslan Karatsev, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-2. Giron, meanwhile, had a easier time with Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic, winning 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.

Croatian Coric was made to work hard by Pedro Cachin before the No. 15 seed prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. No. 22 Alexander Zverev or No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo also advanced with wins in straight sets.

It was the end of the road, however, for No. 18 Alex de Minaur, who fell to a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-3 defeat by Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.