#NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur and American Reilly Opelka have been dinner buddies this week at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The third seed may want to foot the bill tonight after holding off 28 aces from Opelka on Saturday to reach the final with a 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-3 win.
At age 20, De Minaur is the youngest finalist in tournament history. He’s through to his first ATP Tour final since winning the Sydney International in January (d. Seppi) and the fourth of his career. Although the Aussie endured a string of early exits on clay and grass while dealing with a groin injury, he’s 14-4 on hard courts this season and has looked confident since stepping back on his best surface.
“I’m really proud of where I am after suffering a tough injury. I’m back where I want to be,” said De Minaur. “I felt like I’ve been playing some great tennis, but not getting the wins that I wanted. I knew that sooner or later, I’d have a good result again.”
There were no service breaks in the first two sets of his semi-final with Opelka. De Minaur raced through the last three points of the first-set tie-break, but Opelka hung tough in a wild second-set tie-break that saw him lose three mini-break advantages before levelling the score.
After more than two hours of play, De Minaur earned the first break of the match to lead 3-2 in the deciding set. Buoyed by snapping Opelka’s streak of 47 consecutive service holds this week, the third seed broke once more to close out the match after two hours and 29 minutes. He improved to 2-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Opelka, having defeated the American this year in Sydney.
Awaiting him in the final is second-seeded American Taylor Fritz, who withstood a valiant fight from Brit Cameron Norrie to prevail 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. De Minaur defeated Fritz in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting last year in the Next Gen ATP Finals.
Fritz hammered 15 aces and won 77 per cent of his first-serve points to advance past Norrie in one hour and 39 minutes. The 21-year-old has won nine of his past 10 matches, having clinched his first ATP Tour title last month at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey). He’s guaranteed to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 30 when the newest standings are released on Monday.
“To get to two finals in a month really shows that my level has gone up and that the first time wasn’t a fluke. I know I’m improving, so it feels really good,” said Fritz. “I’m playing way better from the last time I played [De Minaur], so It’s going to be an exciting match. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other in the future as well.”
Inglot/Krajicek March Into Doubles Final
Second seeds Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek defeated Jack Sock and Jackson Withrow 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach the doubles final in Atlanta. The British-American duo won their first ATP Tour doubles together last month in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (d. Daniel/Koolhof). They’ll face top seeds Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan or fourth seeds Radu Albot and Artem Sitak in the championship match.