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De Minaur a gallant finalist in Sydney

Teenage Aussie Alex De Minaur capped his incredible Sydney International campaign with a brave fight in the final against Daniil Medvedev.
13 January 2018, by AAP

Alex de Minaur’s remarkable Sydney International run has come to an end after falling to Daniil Medvedev in a marathon three-set final.

The Australian teen sensation fought back from 4-0 down in a heart-stopping deciding set and saved a match point under immense pressure at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday night.

But the stubborn Russian qualifier won the mental battle, eventually wearing the local favourite down to prevail 1-6 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 12 minutes.

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“I said to myself, ‘just keep digging, leave it all out there, find a way to just make it competitive’,” a gracious de Minaur said.

“I didn’t want to just not leave it all out there, especially for everyone who stayed out there.

“I wanted to compete until the last point. And I thought that’s what I did, I left it all out there on court.”

Next to nothing has stopped de Minaur this year. Before this event, he had won 11 of 12 matches and claimed six top-50 victims along the way.

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Another in Sydney would have been a momentous occasion to savour, a first piece of silverware to reward the 18-year-old’s breakout fortnight.

It would have made him the youngest player to win the Australian Open tune-up tournament in almost two decades, since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt achieved the feat at the same age.

Still, Saturday’s showdown was another demonstration of shot selection and composure well beyond de Minaur’s years, while his opponent, the 21-year-old Medvedev, produced some breathtaking winners at crucial points to cement himself as a rising star.

As it stands, world No.167 de Minaur is the lowest-ranked Sydney finalist since No.223 Andrei Cherkasov in 1989.

That ranking is soon set to rise to No.127 as he embarks on an Australian Open campaign starting against Tomas Berdych.