The last year's finalist and the top seed Alex de Minaur has been the player to beat so far in Milan this week, toppling all three rivals to reach the semi-final from the leading position. In the third round-robin clash, the Aussie took down Casper Ruud 4-1, 4-0, 4-2 in 62 minutes, delivering 23 winners and five unforced errors for another rock-solid performance and the place in the next round.
The Norwegian didn't play bad either, hitting 13 winners and six unforced errors but not matching de Minaur's pace, winning only seven points on the return and squandering both break chances he created. On the other hand, Alex earned 12 break opportunities, converting five and controlling the pace from start to finish after having the upper hand in both the quickest and mid-range exchanges.
Casper fended off three break points in the first game of the match to avoid an early setback before de Minaur grabbed a break in game three with a volley winner, cementing the advantage with a service winner in the next game and closing the set with a forehand down the line winner in game five for a 4-1 advantage.
The Aussie saved those two break points in the first game of the second set, earning a break in game two with a volley winner and delivering a bagel following a forehand error from Ruud in game four to open a massive advantage.
Carried by this momentum, Alex barely lost a point on serve in the third set, wasting three break chances in the fourth game before sealing the deal with a break in game six thanks to a backhand winner, wrapping up the round-robin action in style and hoping for more of the same in the semis.
In the last match of Group A, Miomir Kecmanovic took down Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-1, 4-1, 4-3 in swift 58 minutes, securing the second semi-final spot to stay on the title course. After not playing that great against de Minaur yesterday, Miomir was back at his best against the opponent who suffered a knee injury on the previous day, dropping five points on serve and never facing a break point.
Davidovich Fokina was miles away from those numbers, facing eight break chances and getting broken three times to push the Serb through. Kecmanovic earned a break in the third game when the Spaniard sent a forehand long, closing the opener with another break in game five when Alejandro hit a double fault.
Playing better and better as the match progressed, the Serb lost one point on serve in the second set, earning a break in game two and opening two sets to love lead following another loose forehand from the Spaniard in game five.
Alejandro fended off three break points at the beginning of the third set, staying in touch until the tie break where he opened a 6-4 advantage that could have kept him in contention for the victory. Staying focused, Miomir rattled off four straight points to steal the breaker 8-6 and clinch the win before the semi-final action.