NextGen Masters: Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas stay on title course


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NextGen Masters: Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas stay on title course

The 2nd seed Alex de Minaur means business so far at the NextGen Masters in Milan, scoring his third round robin win after a 4-3 4-1 4-2 triumph over Taylor Fritz in 70 minutes to finish the Group A action at the top. The Aussie had 17 winners and 14 unforced errors while Fritz hit 14 winners but also 18 mistakes, losing the ground in the longer points to end his first and last NextGen Masters participation in the round robin stage.

Taylor was marvelous on his first serve but the problem was in the first serve percentage, landing only 52% of the first serve in and struggling on the second serve to face five break points, getting broken three times. Alex saved both break points he faced and he saved no less than five set points in the opening set tie break to gather the momentum before the rest of the match.

Taylor fends off three break points in the fifth game to stay in contention and he moved 6-3 ahead in the breaker but without a chance to secure the set with a good serve or forehand, making an unforced error in the 18th point to drop the tie break 10-8 and his chances of reaching the semis.

The American wasted a game point in the fourth game of the second set and he got broken after a deep return from de Minaur who clinched the set after a service winner in game five, moving closer to the finish line. Alex scored another break in the third game of the third set when Taylor's backhand landed long and he saved a break point in the following game with a forehand down the line winner to move 3-1 ahead.

Another powerful forehand in the sixth game sealed the deal for the Aussie who will now face Jaume Munar in the battle for the place in the final. Just like de Minaur, the top seed and the best-ranked player in the draw Stefanos Tsitsipas has also passed the round robin stage action with three wins, toppling Hubert Hurkacz 4-1 4-3 4-1 in an hour and one minute to set the semi-final clash against the last year's finalist Andrey Rublev. The Greek repelled all five break points he faced and he grabbed two breaks from four chances to control the scoreboard in sets one and three, dominating in both the shortest and longer points for a deserved win in straight sets.

Stefanos had 17 winners and 13 unforced errors while Hubert stayed on 13 winners and 14 unforced errors, unable to impose his shots and grab more free points with his initial shot. Hurkacz had two break points already in the first game of the match but Stefanos stayed calm, saving both with service winners and earning a break in the very next game after a poor volley from the Pole.

Serving for the set at 3-1, Tsitsipas fired a backhand down the line winner to win the set in style, gaining the momentum before the much tighter second set where there were no break points. Tsitsipas scored four mini-breaks to take the breaker 7-2 when Hubert's backhand landed long, making another big step towards the finish line.

Hurkacz suffered a break in the second game of the third set and he saved three break chances in the next game, bringing the game home with a volley winner to maintain in front and securing the win with another one in the fifth game for his 44th win of the season.

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