De Minaur downs fresher Seppi to win first title
Australian teenager Alex De Minaur won two matches in a day to claim his first career ATP title at the Sydney International yesterday.
De Minaur, 19 and ranked 29, conquered the fresher Italian Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in the final after overcoming Frenchman Gilles Simon in a rain-postponed semi-final earlier in the day.
De Minaur’s triumph made him the youngest winner of the Sydney tournament since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt claimed it as a 19-year-old in 2001.
Sydney-born De Minaur is the first Australian champion at the 134-year tournament since Bernard Tomic in 2013.
In his second straight Sydney final, the fifth seed won 75 % of first-serve points to improve on his runner-up finish to Russian Daniil Medvedev last year.
De Minaur has soared 208 places to 29 in the ATP Rankings and was named ATP Newcomer of the Year after earning 28 tourlevel victories throughout his 2018 campaign.
After conceding a break of serve in the opening game of the match, De Minaur levelled the opening set at 3-3.
The first set appeared to be heading towards a tie-break until De Minaur broke in the 12th game, attacking Seppi’s forehand to force errors and earn short balls in return from his opponent.
Seppi was again the first to strike in the second set.
The Italian earned his first break point of the set before capitalising on a De Minaur doublefault to lead 4-3.
But the Australian youngster broke back for 4-4 as Seppi made consecutive groundstroke errors.
In the tie-break, De Minaur recovered from a mini-break down three times, before clinching the title on his first championship point as Seppi netted a backhand.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova outlasted Ashleigh Barty in a final-set tiebreak to win the Sydney International women’s tournament.
The Czech 2015 champion and fifth seed fought back from dropping the opening set and an early break in the final set to beat the top-ranked Aussie, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/3) in two hours 19 minutes.
It was a gutsy performance from the two-time Wimbledon champion who only finished her semi-final against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the early hours yesterday.
Kvitova had beaten Barty both the previous times they played, including in the Birmingham final in 2017, but she had to dig deep to win her eighth straight final, coming back from an 0-3 deficit in the final set.
“I left everything out there. I was cramping in the end. It wasn’t the best,” Kvitova said.
“She’s Aussie, so she used to these conditions. I played three times in the night, so for me it was totally different conditions, which from the beginning I feel very, very slow.
“So it just took me a while to get used to the rhythm and get back to the play.
Hobart: Composed American Sofia Kenin broke through to clinch her first WTA title Saturday with a straight sets win over Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova at the Hobart International.
The unseeded 20-year-old put in a dominant performance to win 6-3 6-0.
“I’m really happy to have won. I didn’t want to overthink it and I’m happy with the way I composed myself during the match,” said Kenin, ranked 56 in the world.
The 77th-ranked Schmiedlova started strongly, earning three break points on the Kenin serve in the fourth game, but couldn’t convert and never threatened from then on.
Kenin’s power and depth of groundstrokes made the difference and Schmiedlova succumbed in 71 minutes.
She has made a blistering start to the season, winning her first WTA doubles title in Auckland last week and not dropping a set in Hobart with her exploits set to see her break into the world’s top 40 when the new singles rankings are released on Monday.
“I feel in great form and I’m really proud of myself,” she added ahead of making her way to Melbourne for the Australian Open, where she will play Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova in round one.
Australia’s Alex De Minaur holds the winner’s trophy after beating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the final of the Sydney International yesterday.