The visitors dominated large parts of the encounter, but they were unable to turn their possession into goals.
Spurs created their first opportunity in the third minute when full-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto drilled in an effort from 25 yards out that grazed the upright before heading out of play.
Ten minutes later Luka Modric wriggled free on the edge of the area, but the Tottenham midfielder shot straight at Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.
Harry Redknapp's side then had a penalty appeal turned down when Emmanuel Adebayor claimed that his goalbound header was blocked by the arm of Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley. However, referee Chris Foy waved away the appeals.
Sunderland's only real chance of half fell to Craig Gardner, who headed Bardsley's cross straight at Brad Friedel in the away goal.
Spurs continued to control the proceedings after the restart, although they found goalscoring chances hard to come by.