De Minaur books spot in Sydney final

Jan 13, 2018

Teen sensation Alex De Minaur is within touching distance of a maiden ATP title after sweeping into the final of the Sydney International.

De Minaur surged from a set down to outrally and ultimately outdo world No.42 Frenchman Benoit Paire 4-6 6-1 6-1 in Friday night's semi-final.

His sixth-straight top-50 scalp seals his place in Saturday's tournament decider against Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev, one step further than last week's stirring Brisbane International semi-final appearance.

The 18-year-old is Sydney's youngest finalist since Lleyton Hewitt won in 2000 at the same age, and this latest display showcased a prodigious tenacity and persistence not unlike that of his mentor.

Hewitt observed from the stands of a packed-out Ken Rosewall Arena, while Tomas Berdych no doubt will have watched his first-round Australian Open opponent with intrigue from Melbourne.

De Minaur was nimble and creative and pulled off some spectacular shots, attacking Paire's forehand in a bid to frustrate.

Amid a slew of long rallies, the pair held serve until 4-4 but de Minaur was the first to crack, going a break down after an error-ridden game before conceding the opening set.

The local returned with a vengeance in the second, breaking Paire to love to take a 3-1 lead and, for good measure, taking the next game to love too.

As de Minaur's grip tightened on the match, Paire's mental grasp slackened and the unforced errors piled up.

De Minaur was lucky with a net cord to break again and serve out the second set.

In the third, he was made to endure six deuces to hold one particularly gruelling service game but still won 11 of the last 12 games and, after being denied two match points, converted the third.

World No.84 Medvedev, who upset fourth seed Fabio Fognini 2-6 6-4 6-1 in his semi-final, knew the challenge he faced in de Minaur.

"I don't know so much about him, but I saw him play in some tournaments and I knew already before that he's gonna be a great player," the 21-year-old Russian said.

"Because I remember he was playing with Technifibre before and we had a camp where I played some tiebreaks with him ... he beat me, it was only me serving and he beat me.

"I was, like, 'Wow, this guy is amazing. He is going to be good'.

"And he's becoming good now. I wish him all the best. It's nice to see some young guys coming up."

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