ATP Atlanta: De Minaur battles past Opelka to set final clash against Fritz



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ATP Atlanta: De Minaur battles past Opelka to set final clash against Fritz

It will be a battle of two youngsters in the final of Atlanta, with the 2nd and 3rd seeds Taylor Fritz and Alex de Minaur scoring semi-final triumphs in three sets. The 20-year-old Alex de Minaur is through to the fourth ATP final, ousting Reilly Opelka 7-6 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes for the second win over the American this season.

The first one came in Sydney when Alex claimed the first ATP title and will have the opportunity to fight for another one, overcoming a tough period due to injuries and playing on a high level in Atlanta. The Aussie lost only 21 points on serve, barely giving anything away on the first serve (45 out of 47) and never facing a break point to mount the pressure on Opelka who couldn't endure it in the deciding set after a valiant effort in the first two.

The giant American fended off a couple of break chances in sets one and two, forcing a decider where he finally lost the ground, firing 28 aces but suffering two breaks to send Alex into the title match. Servers settled into a great rhythm right from the start, dropping seven points in the first eight games before de Minaur did some damage on the return in game nine, hitting a backhand winner for the first break point of the match, denied by a powerful serve from Reilly who blasted another great serve to fend off the second break chance, holding after a backhand error from the Aussie to stay on the positive side of the scoreboard.

At 4-4 in the tie break, Opelka hit a double fault and de Minaur closed the set with two points on own serve, moving 7-6 up in 50 minutes. The second set was very similar, with great serving from the Aussie and two opportunities he created on the return at 3-2.

Reilly erased them with two winners, staying in touch and reaching the tie break, a must-win one for him. Alex hit a double fault at 3-4 to fall behind, pulling the mini-break back in the 11th point before Opelka grabbed another one following a huge forehand miss from his rival to clinch the breaker 7-5 and send the encounter into a decider.

There, de Minaur stayed calm and on the same path he held in the first two sets, barely losing a point behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on Reilly who failed to reach the tie break this time. From 40-15 down in the fifth game, Alex claimed four straight points to secure the first break of the match after a forehand error from the American, wasting three break points in game seven but sealing the deal with another break in game nine after a perfect return to secure the place in the fourth ATP final and the first since January.

Taylor Fritz is through to the third ATP final and the second in a month, defeating Cameron Norrie 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in an hour and 38 minutes, firing 15 aces and facing only two break points. Cameron did convert one but that wasn't enough to keep him longer in the match, suffering three breaks from seven opportunities given to Taylor and finishing his run in the semi-final.

The American had the upper hand in the first set, dropping four points in his games and breaking the Briton in game four when Cameron sent a forehand long. Norrie suffered another break in the sixth game and Taylor sealed the set with a hold at 15 in game seven after swift 24 minutes.

Norrie scored a break in the fourth game of the second set following a costly double fault from Fritz, serving well throughout the set and closing it with a service winner in game nine to set up a decider. Taylor was back at his best in the third set, giving away seven points behind the initial shot and creating three chances for a break in game four.

Norrie fended them off but there was no coming back for him after a massive forehand error at 2-3, pushing Fritz in front and allowing the American to move over the top with four winners in game nine, saving a beautiful volley winner for the last point to set the title clash with de Minaur on Sunday.