Tennis Young Gun Alex de Minaur Wins First Title On Home Soil
Australian Alex de Minaur emerged from a marathon day of tennis to claim 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 Seppi.
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 veteran down over the 2hr 5min clash.
He also showed no sign of nerves, getting 73 per cent of his first serves in and bouncing back immediately after being broken midway through the second set and then three times when the world No.37 had mini breaks in the tiebreaker.
It came after de Minaur's earlier 1hr 34min 6-3 6-2 victory over Simon, where he never really looked challenged but had to endure temperatures of more than 30 degrees.
It also took his daily court time to more than three-and-a-half hours, two days out from his first-round Australian Open clash with Portugal's Pedro Sousa.
Earlier in the evening, Ash Barty went down in three sets to Czech Petra Kvitova in a 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) thriller 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.
Forced to serve to stay in the match as early as the end of the second set, the Czech star Kvitova hit back to break Barty for the first time to take the set and send the match to a decider.
Both women broke each other three times in the third set, including back-to-back efforts from Barty as Kvitova served for the championship twice.
Kvitova's experience finally paid off as she powered home in the tiebreaker to claim her 26th WTA tour victory.
In turn, it also handed Barty her second straight runner-up finish 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."
Regardless, it showed world No.15 Barty is ready to challenge anyone at next week's Australian Open.
She beat world No.1 Simona Halep, No.9 Kiki Bertens and No.12 Elise Mertens on her way to the final.
She also broke Kvitova's serve six times in total, after the No.5 seed had dropped just four games on her racquet throughout the whole tournament previously.
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