Australian teenager Alex De Minaur won two matches in a day to claim his first career ATP title at the Sydney International on Saturday.
De Minaur, 19 and ranked 29, conquered the fresher Italian Andreas Seppi 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) in the final after overcoming Frenchman Gilles Simon in a rain-postponed semi-final earlier in the day.
De Minaur’s triumph made him the youngest winner of the Sydney tournament since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt claimed it as a 19-year-old in 2001.
Sydney-born De Minaur is the first Australian champion at the 134-year tournament since Bernard Tomic in 2013.
“It’s crazy that this actually happened. I thought it wouldn’t happen. Third time lucky, and you guys don’t know how much it means to do it in front of all you guys, in front of my home,” De Minaur told the crowd shortly after his victory.
In his second straight Sydney final, the fifth seed won 75 percent of first-serve points to improve on his runner-up finish to Russian Daniil Medvedev last year.
De Minaur has soared 208 places to 29 in the ATP Rankings and was named ATP Newcomer of the Year after earning 28 tour-level victories throughout his 2018 campaign.
After conceding a break of serve in the opening game of the match, De Minaur levelled the opening set at 3-3.
The first set appeared to be heading towards a tie-break until De Minaur broke in the 12th game, attacking Seppi’s forehand to force errors and earn short balls in return from his opponent.
Seppi was again the first to strike in the second set.
The Italian earned his first break point of the set before capitalising on a De Minaur double-fault to lead 4-3.
But the Australian youngster broke back for 4-4 as Seppi made consecutive groundstroke errors.
In the tie-break, De Minaur recovered from a mini-break down three times, before clinching the title on his first championship point as Seppi netted a backhand.