In a battle of the Next Gen we saw Australia’s Alex de Minaur take on USA’s Frances Tiafoe. 19-year-old de Minaur is ranked at 45 just one behind 20-year-old Tiafoe.
Embed from Getty Images
Photo: Australia’s Alex de Minaur. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Tiafoe opened the serving and held. In de Minaur’s first service game he had to fight hard to hold. A breakpoint was saved at 30-40.
After a long rally de Minaur hit long to offer a second break point. Tiafoe returned the favour and hit long to take the game to deuce.
Embed from Getty Images
Photo: NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 30: Frances Tiafoe of The United States returns the ball during the men’s singles second round match against Alex Di Minaur of Australia on Day Four of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 30, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
In a super long rally, Tiafoe finally unleashed back-to-back forehand rockets to earn a third break point. de Minaur saved it with a trademark point where the Australian showed great speed to get to a drop shot and hit the winner. He finally won the game for 1-1.
The match would last for five hours if the pattern of long rallies continued.
Tiafoe in the next game showed a lack of patience as he immediately went for a flashy forehand winner. A second missed forehand put de Minaur up 0-30. A double fault then handed de Minaur three break points.
de Minaur should have converted as he had a smash at the net, however, Tiafoe read the smash and hit his reply for a winner. In the end, de Minaur did get the break after another very long rally that the Australian ended after going into the net to put away a volley at the second attempt.
The Australian consolidated the break to lead 3-1 early in the opening set. From there de Minaur held serve to take the first set 6-4.
In the second set it was all de Minaur as he raced to 6-0 and with that, he took a commanding two sets to nil advantage.
Tiafoe had three breakpoints at 1-2 in the third set and his Australian opponent handed the break to Tiafoe with a double fault. de Minaur would immediately break back to love. You could have expected Tiafoe to fold and lose in straight sets, but he fought again to go up another break and at 2-5 with de Minaur serving the American had a look at a set point. That went away after Tiafoe hit his return long, an ace followed by a Tiafoe unforced error kept de Minaur in the set.
Tiafoe then was serving for the set but completely went off the boil when he held three set points. He double-faulted, then hit a shot into the net, double-faulted again and then hit a shot long for de Minaur to have a breakpoint. de Minaur took the game after he raced towards the net to hit a forehand winner.
de Minaur easily won the next game to take the score to 5-5, but then he lost concentration and let Tiafoe back into the match as he was broken to see the set go to the American 7-5. Tiafoe had found more energy as he pumped up the crowd heading into a fourth set.
Embed from Getty Images
Photo: FLUSHING MEADOW, NY – AUGUST 30: ALEX DE MINAUR (AUS) day four of the 2018 US Open on August 30, 2018, at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, NY. (Photo by Chaz Niell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The players both left the court between the third and fourth set and got a change of clothes. Tiafoe was first to serve after around six minutes from the end of the previous set.
Straight away the American was under the pump as he fell behind 0-40. A horribly missed forehand that barely hit halfway up the next conceded the game. After all of the momentum he had at the end of the third set, it was not what Tiafoe wanted. More errors followed from Tiafoe to see de Minaur consolidate the break and lead 2-0.
Tiafoe was made to work hard in the next game and had several deuce points before finally holding to see the Australian serving at 2-1. Tiafoe had two break points with de Minaur serving at 15-40 but a shot on the line from de Minaur saved the first. Tiafoe attacked on the next point but a big forehand clipped the net and sailed long to see de Minaur get to deuce. Back-to-back aces saved the game for the Australian.
For the second-straight service game it was not easy for Tiafoe to hold, but hold he did to get to 3-2 with de Minuar next up to serve.
de Minaur at 40-15 had an unforced error to let Tiafoe back into the game and he further opened the door as de Minaur badly missed a shot to hit well long to bring up deuce. de Minaur was looking a bit tired but he let out a roar to pump himself up when Tiafoe hit a shot long. de Minaur would close out the game to keep a break up and lead 4-2.
Tiafoe was in all kinds of trouble in the next game as he stepped to the service line facing three break points. The American was not going away without a fight and got to game point after winning four consecutive points. He then double-faulted to see the game at deuce before hitting a big forehand wide to see de Minaur with the fourth break point in the game. After all of the hard work to save the breakpoints Tiafoe eventually conceded the break when he hit long.
de Minaur was now ahead 5-2 and serving for a place in the third round. The Australian had reached the third round at Wimbledon. de Minaur served out the game to love and let out a roar to celebrate.
The match was in the bag after a 6-4, 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 victory for the Australian.
“I had to play my best tennis today, all credit to Frances. I just had to be very tough throughout the whole match and try to keep my concentration and not get down on myself and always stay positive. That’s pretty much what got me the win today”, de Minaur said after the match.
The key stat in the match was the 51 unforced errors from Tiafoe compared to 33 from de Minaur. It was almost level in the winners column with 38-37 in favour of the Australian.
Next up for de Minaur is Marin Cilic. The no. 7 seed and 2014 champion cruised to victory over qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.