Australia’s world no. 72 took on Russia’s world no. 46 Andrey Rublev at the ATP 500 event in Washington D.C. It was the first meeting between the two Next Gen players. de Minaur is 19-year-old and Rublev is 20-years-old.
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Photo: Australia’s Alex de Minaur played an amazing match to reach his first ATP 500 final (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Rublev was backing up from earlier in the day defeating USA’s Denis Kudla 6-1, 6-4 after the quarterfinal was washed out the night before.
Both players were competing in their first ATP 500 semifinal.
de Minaur had four break point opportunities in the first set including one where he missed a volley by centimeters, then when the table was turned Rublev took his opportunity in the 12th game to get the crucial break to take the set 7-5.
At 1-2 in the second set de Minaur saved three break points to level at 2-2. In the next game, Rublev served a double fault to give de Minaur a sniff. At 15-30 down Rublev hit a rocket of a forehand that was recorded at 92 mp/h.
de Minaur then earned a. Breakpoint at 30-40 however again it was a big forehand from Rublev that saved the day. Rublev held to go out to a 3-2 lead.
At 3-4 down Rublev had a look at a break point on 30-40 after de Minaur hit long, it was the sixth break point opportunity of the match so far for Rublev. After a long rally, it was Rublev who hit just long to miss that opportunity. de Minaur fought his way out of the game to level at 4-4.
Rublev again held to put the pressure on de Minaur to hold as the Australian served at 4-5 down. Both players were feeling the evening heat and humidity
Games continued on serve until 5-5 when de Minaur earned a breakpoint after he jumped on a second serve to hit deep and then have Rublev push back a shot that de Minaur hit for a winner.
Rublev put in a slow second serve that kicked high and de Minaur mishit the return. de Minaur was fighting hard but Rublev was just doing enough to stay ahead. He won the game to hold a 6-5 lead in the second set.
It was now looking as though Rublev would have to win the second set and close out the match or de Minaur would come over the top of him in the third set.
At 30-0 with de Minaur serve he put in a double fault then followed that up with an unforced error as he hit just wide to see the score at 30-30. Rublev was just two points from the match. de Minaur stepped up and served an unplayable serve, followed by an ace to win the game and take the match into a tie-break.
Rublev was first to serve and was looking tired however it was de Minaur who hit a shot into the net to give his opponent the first point.
Rublev had won eight of his last nine tiebreaks
Rublev got a mini break to lead 2-1. He was hitting rockets and de Minaur chased them down before hitting into the net. Another netted shot saw Rublev ahead 3-1.
De Minaur chose to attack the second serve of Rublev and charged the net. His approach shot was too short and Rublev easily made the pass to lead 4-1. A big first serve got an error from Rublev for 2-4. That was a massive point but another followed as the Australian fought to stay in the match.
Rublev found the energy to blast some groundstrokes that got an error from de Minaur and set up a 5-2 lead. The next point saw de Minaur hit close the baseline and Rublev pulled out of the shot but then looking like he had made the wrong choice he asked for a review and was bailed out by Hawkeye.
That brought up four match points. de Minaur fought back to 6-5 as Rublev stepped up to serve out the match. de Minaur was not going away and forced an error from his Russian opponent as he hit a deep shot.
6-6 with Rublev serving. The Russian was hitting big groundstrokes but they kept going back before Rublev finally cracked and mishit long. de Minaur was now up 7-6 and when Rublev hit wide the second set was his.
de Minaur was serving first in the decider and held serve, this was followed by Rublev holding serve.
At 1-1 and 15-15 de Minaur hit long to give Rublev a sniff, the Russian followed that up with some insane hitting that finally forced an error from de MInaur and gave himself a breakpoint at 15-40. Rublev was pounding the ball to all parts of the court before he had an easy shot that he missed down the line to give Rublev the break.
In the very next game de Minaur earned a breakpoint and after playing a smart point he finally drew an unforced error from Rublev as he hit just long.
Rublev pushed de Minaur to 40-30 before the Australian claimed the game for a 3-2 lead.
de Minaur jumped to a 0-30 lead in the next game but Rublev didn’t fold. He hit a stunning forehand winner to get back to 30-30, then an unforced error hit into the net by de Minaur gave Rublev game point, but the third double fault of the match from Rublev kept de Minaur in that game. de Minaur again defended well and finally got on top to force an error. de Minaur got the break to take a 4-2 lead.
In the very next game de Minaur’s level dropped and the Russian earned three break back points. The first was saved as Rublev hit halfway down the net. The Russian converted the next to break back for a 3-4 score. Games continued with serve.
Serving at 4-5 down Rublev lost the first point but then a big shot helped him to 15-15, From there de Minaur won the next two point with the help of a double fault.
A big first serve that de Minaur could not handle save the first match point, the second was saved with a trademark big forehand that de Minaur on that occasion could not get it back in play. Then at deuce, an unplayable serve took Rublev to game point before Rublev hit a tired shot into the net.
de Minaur was now feeling that he could win and kept the ball in play before another unforced error from Rublev gave another match point. A big forehand followed by an unconvincing drive volley save it again.
de Minaur hit a good deep forehand to bring up another match point, his fourth. Rublev double-faulted to hand the match to the Australian. The final score was 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4.
It was an epic match with the Australian advancing to his first ATP 500 final where he will meet the defending champion Alexander Zverev. Lleyton Hewitt was the last Australian to win the title, doing so back in 2004.