De Minaur Advances To The Atlanta SFs
On Friday, Aussie Alex de Minaur advanced to his first semi-final since winning the Sydney International in January. The World No. 34 held a 6-2, 3-0 lead against countryman Bernard Tomic when the 26-year-old retired due to a hand injury, sending the #NextGenATP star into the last four of the BB&T Atlanta Open.
“It’s not ideal obviously for him, but I’ll take this any day of the week. I got here to come, play some good tennis, and ended up with the win,” De Minaur said. “I hope Bernard gets better and recovers, and hopefully he’s all good for the next tournament.”
De Minaur was dominant on serve, winning all but one of his first-serve points in the match (21/22), and he did not face a break point. The 20-year-old broke Tomic three times before the World No. 106 retired.
The 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up has had to spend just 108 minutes on court in Atlanta to reach the semi-finals.
“The less time you can spend on court is always to your advantage. It’s going to be hopefully some hot, humid weather, which I was expecting coming into this week,” De Minaur said. “I’m happy to be where I am and now onto the next [match].”
De Minaur will next face American Reilly Opelka, who reached his second Atlanta semi-final with a 7-6(3), 7-5 victory over Daniel Evans in one hour and 36 minutes. Opelka struck 23 aces and did not face break point en route to his triumph against the Brit.
"I served extremely well today. It's a difficult matchup for me against him. He's got a great slice so the ball stays low. For a big guy, that's not easy to deal with," Opelka said. "My serve definitely kept me alive in the match when other things weren't working and I pieced four good points together there in that last return game and that was it."
Opelka, who upset five-time champion John Isner in the second round, is trying to reach his second ATP Tour final after emerging victorious at the New York Open in February. In January, De Minaur defeated Opelka 6-4, 7-6(5) in Sydney in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
"The Demon, he's an unbelievable player. A good buddy of mine, we've actually been grabbing dinner together the past few nights. He's probably the fastest guy on tour right now. He's an unbelievable competitor and he actually serves really well for his size. You wouldn't really expect it, but he's got a really good serve. He beat me in a great match in Sydney. Obviously he really plays well on the hard courts, so it's going to be a great test for me and I hope I can play my best, and it will be a really fun match."
Second-seeded American Taylor Fritz hammered 11 aces and didn't face a break point to ease past #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 7-6(1). The 21-year-old, who won his first ATP Tour title last month at the Nature Valley International (d. Querrey), is through to the last four in Atlanta for the first time in four appearances. Fritz is projected to surpass his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 30 when the newest standings are released on Monday.
“I’ve been playing really well," said Fritz. "I had an ankle injury that took effect in [February] and was bugging me until the start of the clay-court season. I put in a lot of work as soon as my ankle allowed me to and I've been playing so well since then. The only losses I’ve had lately are to quality players who are playing great tennis. I couldn't be happier."
Fritz's win also meant that three players who are 21-and-under are into the semi-finals of an ATP Tour event for the first time since last year's Citi Open (Zverev, Tsitsipas, De Minaur and Rublev).
Next up for Fritz is his doubles partner this week, Cameron Norrie. The Brit reached his second straight semi-final in Atlanta with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over #NextGenATP Aussie Alexei Popyrin. Norrie endured a wild second set that featured five breaks of serve to reach his third ATP Tour semi-final of the season.
“I’m pumped to get through that. It wasn’t easy because he’s young, up-and-coming and talented,” said Norrie. "It’s another semi-final now, so I’m just going to look to keep my level and keep pushing for more.”