Australian teen sensation Alex de Minaur has emerged from a gruelling day on court to win his first ATP title, beating Andreas Seppi 7-5 7-6 (7-5) in the Sydney International final.
Forced to win through his semi-final on Saturday afternoon against Gilles Simon after rain washed out play on Friday night, de Minaur returned to the court six hours later for a gutsy straight-sets win over the Italian veteran.
Broken in the first game of the opening set, it proved to be one of the few blights on the 19-year-old’s game as he broke back five games and barely gave Seppi another look in.
In doing so, he became the youngest winner of the Sydney International since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001, and the first home talent to claim the prize since Bernard Tomic in 2013.
It was also fitting he joined Hewitt as a 19-year-old winner, given there was so much about the Australian Davis Cup team captain – who again sat in his players’ box with son Cruz – in the victory.
The world No.29’s court coverage was immense as always, regularly chasing down his Italian opponent’s forehands and wearing the 34-year-old down over the 2hr 5min clash to make amends for last year’s final loss to Daniil Medvedev.
“It’s crazy that this actually happened,” de Minaur said.
“I thought it wouldn’t happen. Third time lucky, and you guys don’t know how much it means to do it in front of all you guys, in front of my home.”
Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty insists she’s playing the tennis that can take it to the world’s best at the Australian Open, despite falling to Petra Kvitova 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) in an epic Sydney International final.
After Barty shot out of the blocks in the first set and led the deciding set 3-0, world No.8 Kvitova fought back time and time again in the 2hr 19min classic while battling fatigue to claim her second Sydney crown.
Barty finished as a second straight runner-up in Sydney, after losing to Angelique Kerber in last year’s final.
“It’s tough to take,” Barty said.
“It’s hard to put in words at the moment, but, it’s been a hell of a week. I couldn’t have left anything more out on the court.
“I have had probably one of the best weeks of my career. I feel like I’m playing great tennis. Yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow tonight, but we move on.”