Can Alex de Minaur’s red-hot form carry him all the way to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown?
The Australian wasted little time booking his spot in the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers championship match with a 6-1, 6-3 triumph against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Saturday in Toronto. De Minaur stayed largely solid to ease to victory against his under-par opponent in just 78 minutes, breaking in all but one of the Spaniard’s eight service games to reach his fourth ATP Tour final of the season.
“It was a very tough day. Very tricky conditions out here,” said De Minaur. “Very windy, and not easy to play tennis, so from the first point I just told myself to stay positive. I was going to try and win every point, try to be solid and not expect perfect tennis. I think that made the difference today.”
Now 16-5 since the beginning of the grass-court season in June, De Minaur will meet seventh seed Jannik Sinner or 12th seed Tommy Paul on Sunday at Sobeys Stadium as he chases the biggest title of his career. His run in Toronto, where he took out Top 10 opponents Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev prior to Davidovich Fokina, has lifted him five spots to 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
Davidovich Fokina’s low-energy performance on Saturday suggested he may have been feeling the effects of his previous exertions this week in Toronto, where he upset seeded players Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud. De Minaur was clinical in capitalising on his opponent’s struggles, cruising to become the first Australian to reach the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers final since Patrick Rafter in 2001.
Even when Davidovich Fokina found some rhythm on return, he was unable to regain control as he offered up 38 unforced errors to De Minaur’s nine overall. The Australian claimed the only hold of the second set in the second game before the windy conditions contributed to seven straight breaks of serve to finish the match.
“[I‘m proud of] bringing out the level that I knew I always could and being able to back it up day after day,” said De Minaur, who had not been past the last 16 of a Masters 1000 prior to this week. “That’s been one of the goals of mine, to stay consistent and keep bringing this level, and give myself chances to play in the deep ends of tournaments. To play against the best in the world and go toe to toe with them.
“I gave myself the chance this week, I’ve taken that opportunity, and tomorrow I get to play another final.”
De Minaur has now risen six spots to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings as a result of his run in Toronto, three clear of his career-high No. 15. He is set up nicely for a bid to crack the Top 10 for the first time across the rest of the North American hard-court swing.
“For a couple of years now I’ve been chasing that goal, and probably put a lot of stress on myself to try to achieve that,” said De Minaur. “I’m always going to get the absolute most out of myself. I’m not content where I am, so I’m just going to keep on pushing.”
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