© Peter Staples/ATP World Tour

Alex de Minaur wins 76 per cent of his second-serve points to oust fellow #NextGenATP player Hubert Hurkacz.

De Minaur Wins #NextGenATP Battle In Atlanta

Nineteen-year-old Aussie to face top-seeded Isner

The 2018 ATP World Tour season has been a breakout campaign for Aussie Alex de Minaur, who continued his rise with a 1-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(5) victory against fellow #NextGenATP player Hubert Hurkacz at the BB&T Atlanta Open on Monday.

"It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but it's a very important win for me," De Minaur said. "I managed to dig deep, stay tough and beat a quality opponent."

De Minaur, the youngest player in the Atlanta field at 19 years, five months, won three fewer points than the Pole in the match. However, he won 76 per cent of second-serve points en route to his 12th tour-level victory of the year (12-11).

The right-hander finished 2017 at No. 208 in the ATP Rankings. But a semi-final showing in Brisbane and his first championship match in Sydney to start the year set De Minaur in the right direction. And thanks to a third-round appearance at Wimbledon, the Aussie is up to a career-best World No. 68. But while trailing a set and a break on Monday, it appeared the teenager was in danger of a first-round exit.

"I just tried to stay positive throughout the whole match, tried to dig deep," De Minaur said. "I knew that if I could just sort of get my teeth into it, I was going to start playing some better tennis and I played some big points on the big occasions. That got me that second set and then I was able to get that momentum going."

De Minaur served for the match at 5-4 in the third set, and then held a 4/1 advantage in the final-set tie-break. But while Hurkacz evened the tie-break at 5/5, he could not complete the comeback. At 5/5, Hurkacz hit a big cross-court forehand to elicit an error from De Minaur, but a challenge revealed that his shot missed just wide. And on match point, the 19-year-old struck a backhand return that barely scraped the baseline, clinching his triumph.

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De Minaur will next face top seed John Isner, who will be competing in his first match since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals. In other action, Eastbourne runner-up Lukas Lacko cruised past Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran 6-2, 6-2 in 52 minutes. Croat Ivo Karlovic led American Donald Young 6-2, 5-5 before heavy rain forced the cancellation of the day's remaining play.

Third Seeds Hold Off Kyrgios/Kokkinakis
Three of De Minaur’s countrymen were involved in a first-round doubles clash with John-Patrick Smith and American Nicholas Monroe teaming to deny wild card pairing Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios. The No. 3 seeds prevailed 7-6(2), 6-4, withstanding 11 aces and saving all nine break points faced.

British pair Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara dropped just seven first-serve points on their way past Romanian-German duo Marius Copil and Mischa Zverev, 6-4, 6-4, while another Brit, Ken Skupski, teamed with India’s Purav Raja to see off the Lithuanian-Tunisian combination of Ricardas Berankis and Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-3. Raja/Skupski broke four times in the 67-minute encounter.

Did You Know?
De Minaur entered 2018 with two tour-level match wins. He now owns a 12-11 record this season.

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