12 months ago, Alex De Minaur beat Benoit Paire in the final set tie break here in Sydney, and he managed to do the same today, scoring a 4-6 6-1 6-1 triumph in an hour and 49 minutes for his first ATP final in a career. An 18-year-old has been the hottest player on the Tour in the first 2 weeks, reaching the semis in Brisbane and moving a step further in the town where he was born. If he wins the title, Alex will become the youngest ATP champion since Kei Nishikori at Delray beach in 2008 and also the lowest-ranked champion of this tournament since it began in 1973.
De Minaur played better on his second serve and he had the upper hand in the decisive moments, saving 7 out of 8 break points and dominating after the first set thanks to 5 breaks he made. As usual in his defeats, Benoit struggled to find the first serve and he lost his rhythm completely following that first set, making too many errors and unable to make a damage on the return. The opening part of the match was decided when Paire broke in game 9 after one of the worst shots we saw from Alex from the start of the season, but he couldn't keep the same pace in the rest of the match. Benoit started to miss the first serve more and more often and that plagued his game big time, while Alex found his range to take control over the scoreboard.
The Aussie dropped just 3 points on serve in set number 2 and he broke at love in game 4 after a double fault from the Frenchman. De Minaur earned another break in game 6 to open up a 5-1 lead and he grabbed the set a few minutes later with a service winner, taking the momentum and looking good to reach his first ATP final. Benoit lost his ground completely and he lost his serve 3 times in set number 3, wasting all 4 break points he earned to stay on the negative side of the scoreboard all the time, and Alex had no difficulties to bring the match home after just 7 games.
Daniil Medvedev opened his 2017 campaign with a final in Chennai, and he found a nice form at the start of 2018 as well, advancing to his second ATP final after a 2-6 6-4 6-1 win over the 4th seed Fabio Fognini in an hour and 52 minutes. Russian qualifier played better and better as the match progressed, overcoming a 6-2 3-1 deficit and recovering his shots to dominate in the rest of the match, especially in the decider. He had 10 aces and saved 5 out of 8 break points, taking Fognini's serve 4 times from 13 opportunities he created.
Fabio controlled his strokes nicely in the opener, taking the ball early and moving Daniil around the baseline to create an open space for his winners. He broke in the first game of the match when Medvedev netted a backhand, and again in game 7, creating a 5-2 advantage and closing the set with a service winner in the following game, but only after saving a break point. Things went from bad to worse for Daniil, who made another error to lose serve in the third game of the second set, facing a very stern test if he wanted to get back on the scoreboard. Suddenly, his position didn't look that bad when he broke back in game 6 thanks to a poor volley from Fognini, and that gave him the necessary impulse that he has been searching since the start of the match.
Russian saved 2 break points in game 7 and that proved to be crucial, as he broke his rival in game 10 to secure the set by 6-4 and set up a decider. Fabio rattled off 4 break points in the second game to remain in touch but Daniil found the way to break him next time around, placing a backhand winner for a 3-1 lead and holding at 15 in game 5 to increase his advantage to 4-1. Fabio had nothing left in the tank and Medvedev claimed another break in game 6 with a return winner, wrapping up his win with an ace in the following game for the place in the final.