Hometown Hero: De Minaur Earns Maiden Title In Sydney

Sydney-born star defeats Seppi in straight sets

Alex de Minaur lifted his first ATP Tour title on Saturday, beating Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-6(5) to win the Sydney International.

"It's surreal. I couldn't think of a better place to get my first win," said De Minaur. "It's been tough, because I have played a couple of finals and things haven't gone my way. To finally be able to take that step further and get my first win, it's something that's really special in front of friends and family and on the courts I grew up [on]. [These are] definitely memories that are going to last forever."

The 19-year-old, who improves to 9-2 at the event, is the youngest winner in Sydney since mentor Lleyton Hewitt claimed the title in 2001. Sydney-born De Minaur is the first Australian champion at the tournament since Bernard Tomic in 2013. It marked the young Australian's second victory of the day after beating Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-2 in a semi-final that was pushed to Saturday by rain.

"It's definitely special [to be the youngest champion since Hewitt]. I had the opportunity last year... Walking down the tunnel, you see his name on the board four times," said De Minaur. "I'm just happy that I was able to get the win and be the next Aussie to get the win, especially at home. I can't stop smiling."

In his second straight Sydney final, the fifth seed won 75 per cent of first-serve points (45/60) to improve on his runner-up finish at the event in 2018. Ranked No. 167, De Minaur made a shock run to the championship match 12 months ago, falling in three sets to Daniil Medvedev.

Last year, De Minaur also reached the Citi Open final (l. to A. Zverev) and the Next Gen ATP Finals championship match (l. to Tsitsipas) in a breakthrough season. The Australian rose from No. 208 to No. 31 in the ATP Rankings and was named ATP Newcomer of the Year after earning 28 tour-level victories throughout his 2018 campaign.

After conceding an immediate break of serve in the opening game of the match, De Minaur levelled the set at 3-3 with great anticipation and court coverage. The set appeared to be heading towards a tie-break until De Minaur broke in the 12th game to take a one-set lead, attacking Seppi's forehand to extract errors and earn short balls from his opponent.

Once again, Seppi was the first to strike in the second set. The Italian earned his first break point of the set with sharp reactions before capitalising on a double fault from his opponent to lead 4-3. But De Minaur immediately responded, breaking back for 4-4 as Seppi misfired groundstrokes on consecutive points. In the tie-break, De Minaur recovered from a mini-break down on three occasions, before clinching the title on his first championship point as Seppi fired a backhand into the net.

"I felt good out there. I felt like I was moving well. Fitness-wise, I felt like I could keep going, as well. So if, for some reason, it didn't go my way in that second set, I was going to be ready for a third," said De Minaur.

At 34 years of age, Seppi was bidding to become the oldest Sydney champion since Mal Anderson in 1973. In his 12th appearance at the event, the World No. 37 was aiming to lift his first title since the 2012 VTB Kremlin Cup (d. Bellucci).

De Minaur receives 250 ATP Ranking points and collects $90,990 in prize money for lifting the trophy. Seppi gains 150 ATP Ranking points and receives $49,205. The World No. 29 will now travel to Melbourne ahead of his Australian Open first-round match against Pedro Sousa on Monday.

"[I will] go to Melbourne tonight," said De Minaur. "I'll have a light hit tomorrow. I'll get the body right and then it's showtime."

Did You Know?
Since the start of the 2018 ATP Tour season, De Minaur has reached a career-high ATP Ranking on 19 occasions.