10:07 PM GMT July 28, 2019
Third seed Alex de Minaur saved his best for last on Sunday at the BB&T Atlanta Open. The #NextGenATP Aussie dropped just 10 points on serve to defeat second-seeded American Taylor Fritz 6-3, 7-6(2) and clinch his second ATP Tour title.
The 20-year-old lost a mere seven first-serve points throughout the week (116/123) to become the youngest winner in tournament history. He didn’t face a break point in his four matches and held in all 42 service games. De Minaur is only the third player (since stats started being kept in 1991) to win a tournament without facing a break point (Haas 2007 Memphis, Isner 2017 Newport).
“This one is really special to me. I felt like I really needed this. To start the year with a bang and then be slowed down by injuries… you expect your level to be right there once you come back, but you have to slowly grind your way back,” said De Minaur. “I’ve been playing great tennis and felt like if I could keep it all together, the good results will come. This is a week that will really help me out.”
The Aussie's year got off to a flying start with his first ATP Tour crown at the Sydney International (d. Seppi), but a groin injury contributed to a string of early exits on clay and grass. But De Minaur is 15-4 on hard courts this season and has looked confident since he stepped back on his best surface.
His outstanding week will also propel him from No. 6 to No. 3 in the latest ATP Race to Milan standings. De Minaur looks poised to make his second appearance at the Next Gen ATP Finals, held in Milan from 5-9 November. He finished runner-up at last year's event (l. to Tsitsipas).
“I don’t think I could start the American hard-court season any better than this,” said De Minaur. “I’m happy with where I am and enjoying every day. I can’t wait to get back on court and keep improving.”
De Minaur was nearly perfect in his service games throughout the opening set against Fritz and dropped only one point on serve (16/17). The flawless display put the second seed under pressure and his baseline game began to unravel. De Minaur clinched the first break of the match at 3-3 and broke once more for the early advantage.
Both players traded comfortable service holds throughout the second set to force a tie-break. Fritz blinked first and a pair of unforced errors gave De Minaur a commanding 5/2 advantage. The third seed converted his first championship point with a backhand volley winner and let out a yell of delight after 78 minutes.
Despite the loss, Fritz can be pleased with his recent from. He earned his first ATP Tour title last month at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey) and has won nine of his past 11 matches. The American is also projected to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking and move to No. 28 on Monday.
“It was a good week. It’s my first time being one of the top seeds [at an ATP Tour tournament] and I made it to the final. He played really well and I just needed to up it even more if I wanted to win,” said Fritz. “It hurts so much to lose a final, but I’m still confident and will keep moving forward.”