06:57 PM GMT May 05, 2018
#NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe saved three match points in his first-round victory over countryman Tennys Sandgren at the Millennium Estoril Open on Monday.
Five days later, the 20-year-old stunned defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 6-3 to reach his second ATP World Tour final.
Tiafoe, who won his maiden ATP World Tour title at the Delray Beach Open in February (d. Gojowczyk), won 77 per cent of first-serve points to reach his first tour-level final on clay after just 74 minutes. Carreno Busta was appearing in his third tour-level semi-final of the season, and second in as many weeks, after also reaching the final four at the Miami Open presented by Itaú (l. to Zverev) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (l. to Tsitsipas).
In the first set, Tiafoe broke in the opening game to establish an early advantage before securing a second break to serve for the set at 5-2. After successfully taking a one-set advantage, Tiafoe once again broke through on Carreno Busta's serve to take another early lead. After failing to convert break point chances at 3-1 and 4-2, Tiafoe clinched his fourth break of the match on his first match point to set up a final encounter with home favourite Joao Sousa.
Despite entering his home event with a 0-3 record, Sousa, after beating #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 1-6, 7-6(4), now stands just one win away from becoming the first Portuguese champion in tournament history.
The home favourite, who already enters the history books as the first Portuguese finalist in Estoril, booked a place in his 10th ATP World Tour final after two hours and seven minutes after converting his third match point in a final-set tie-break. Sousa has now won 14 of his past 18 tour-level matches, dating back to the beginning of March. He began the season with a 3-6 tour-level record.
Sousa secured the only break of the first set to take a one-set advantage, before the in-form 19-year-old levelled the match with two breaks of serve in the second set. The third set was dominated by serve, with just two of the 12 games reaching deuce and no break points on offer. Sousa raced out to a 4/0 lead in the decisive tie-break and, despite losing his first two match points, clinched his place in the final on his third opportunity.
Tsitsipas was bidding to become the first teenager since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008 (Los Angeles, Washington) to reach consecutive ATP World Tour finals.
Did You Know?
Frances Tiafoe is just the third man to defeat Pablo Carreno Busta in 16 matches at the Millennium Estoril Open. Carreno Busta lost to Nick Kyrgios in the 2015 semi-finals and Nicolas Almagro in the 2016 final before winning the title in 2017 and reaching the semi-finals this year.