WASHINGTON: Third-seeded Australian Alex de Minaur withstood 28 aces from Reilly Opelka to reach the ATP Atlanta final with a 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 victory over the American.
De Minaur, 20, became the youngest player ever to reach the Atlanta final, where he will face either second-seeded American Taylor Fritz or Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
He’ll be chasing a second career ATP title to go with the trophy he captured in Sydney in January before his season was slowed by a groin injury that sidelined him for almost two months.
De Minaur said it was just a matter of staying patient and maintaining his poise against his good friend Opelka.
“I’ve got to know he’s going to hit about 200 aces on me and there’s not much I can do,” he said. “I have to keep doing what I’m doing.”
De Minaur may have produced just five aces, but he was impressive on serve – winning 45 of 47 points on which he put his first serve in play and never facing a break point in a match lasting two hours and 28 minutes.
Opelka, meanwhile, fended off two break points in each of the first two sets before de Minaur gained the first break of the match for a 3-2 lead in the third.
The 21-year-old Opelka, who earned his first ATP title at New York this year, kept it from becoming a runaway as he saved three break points in the seventh game. But the Aussie broke him a final time to seal the win.
“It’s a bit of a lottery out here,” de Minaur said. “I just had to guess the right way on a couple of big points and I was fortunate enough to get the win today.”