Comeback Kid: De Minaur Returns To Atlanta Final, Faces Brooksby
Alex de Minaur battled back from a set down for his second consecutive match on Friday at the Atlanta Open to reach his second final at the ATP 250 event. The third seed dominated the final two sets in a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory against Ilya Ivashka, repeating the formula he used in his quarter-final win against Adrian Mannarino one day prior.
"I just found a way to get through," De Minaur said. "It wasn't an ideal start but these things happen. You adapt, you move on and try to do the best that you can."
The Aussie let an 0-3 lead slip early in the match, with Ivashka surging to the opening set after a lengthy rain delay at 5-5. De Minaur then fought off two break points to open the second set as he began to reassert himself with his steady baseline game. He again erased a pair of break points to start the deciding set before his pressure told.
De Minaur broke serve on five of seven chances, doing his damage with a 62 per cent win rate on second-serve return points.
By improving to 8-1 in Atlanta, the Aussie is through to his first tour-level final of 2022 after three previous semi-final runs. He is seeking his sixth title and his first since winning Eastbourne last June.
The 2019 champion has enjoyed strong support all week in Atlanta, but is not expecting to be the crowd favourite in the final against American Jenson Brooksby, who raced past Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-4 on Saturday evening.
"It's going to be a fun match," De Minaur said. "I feel like I might not have the crowd on my side tomorrow since I'm playing an American. But I'm looking forward to [the final]."
Brooksby took charge of the all-American semi-final by storming to a 3-0 lead as Tiafoe struggled to find the court in the opening set. The 21-year-old pressed home the advantage by claiming his third break chance in his opening return game of set two before his opponent began to settle in on the stadium court.
Tiafoe began to find space to attack late in the match and brought up his first break point as his countryman served out the match. But on his sixth match point in a five-deuce game, Brooksby outlasted Tiafoe in a marathon rally to advance to his third ATP Tour final and second of 2022 (Dallas).
"I thought I stared out really strong today. I came out really fired up," he said post-match. "I think I kept it up in the second, then he started competing, started playing better... I was a little nervous there [at the end of] the second set."
After improving to 8-2 against fellow Americans, Brooksby will seek his first tour-level title on Sunday in his first ATP Head2Head meeting with De Minaur.
"I think it will be a good, physical match tomorrow," he previewed. "I'm excited. It's the final, always really exciting for me."