Kid rock: De Minaur beats the odds to break Sydney title drought
Teen tennis sensation Alex De Minaur became the first Australian man in six years to win the Sydney International after a straight sets victory over Italian veteran Andreas Seppi on Saturday night.
De Minaur had to push through fatigue after rain on Friday had pushed back his semi-final against Gilles Simon to midday on Saturday. He took an ice bath, had a meal then went to sleep before waking later in the evening to face Seppi on Ken Rosewall Arena, downing the world No.37 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) in two hours and five minutes.
Smells like teen spirit: Alex de Minaur celebrates his breakthrough home victory.Credit:AAP
The victory avenged his 2018 final loss to Daniil Medvedev and eased Sydney fans' bruised hearts after Ash Barty's three-set loss to Petra Kvitova earlier in the evening. He became the youngest Sydney International champion since the man he is often compared to, Lleyton Hewitt, in 2000.
It sends him to the Australian Open in Melbourne with high confidence, if not energy levels, after a gruelling finals schedule at Sydney Olympic Park.
De Minaur took the first set 7-5 but had to work for every point in a 64-minute arm-wrestle. The second start played out in similar fashion, with both players earning break points before taking it to a tiebreaker.
Seppi went 3-1 up early on but the Australian hit back to take it 7-5, hitting the deck in sheer relief and elation after a career-best title that should see his ranking soar even higher in coming weeks.
Never say die: De Minaur scrambles to return the ball during a rally against Andreas Seppi of Italy.Credit:AAP
Earlier in the day, de Minaur accused Australian Open organisers of punishing local players who perform well in home tournaments after failing to have his opening-round clash at the major pushed back.
De Minaur was forced to play two matches in one day at the Sydney International on Saturday. Victory over Simon meant the 19-year-old had just a five-hour gap between that match and his final against Seppi, before flying to Melbourne on Sunday and starting his campaign on Monday afternoon.
De Minaur said it left him disadvantaged ahead of his clash with Portuguese outsider Pedro Sousa on Monday, and into the rest of the tournament.
"What is more annoying is me having to play Monday at the Australian Open and not getting helped out as a fellow Aussie at your home slam," he said.
"I think they are punishing Aussies for playing deep in their home tournaments and I think that's not what they should be doing."
De Minaur is one of the few big names playing in the Sydney tournament the week before the Open, with only four of the world's top-30 playing at the event and another six playing in Auckland.
Australia's top-ranked men's player as world No.29, de Minaur's opening match in Melbourne is the third scheduled at Margaret Court Arena.
Asked if he had requested to have the match pushed back, de Minaur replied: "Yeah."
"They came out with the schedule before they even saw the halves or saw who was in the final in the weeks prior. I think that is pretty poor."
The reality is, however, that any change would have forced further complications with the draw.
De Minaur was drawn on the bottom half of the schedule, the side of which all matches are set for Monday.
Moving the Australian's match to Tuesday would have meant that the winner between he and Sousa would have been forced to play two days straight in Melbourne.
The schedule is a complex challenge which also includes prioritising television opportunities for marquee players and adequate rest opportunities.
Tennis Australia have been contacted for comment but are yet to respond.
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