Alex De Minaur’s magical run at the Sydney International knows no bounds.
The 18-year-old Australian sensation came from a set down to stun Frenchman Benoit Paire to reach the first ATP final of his blossoming career.
The 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory sets up a victory against 21-year-old Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev, who earlier on Friday accounted for Fabio Fognini in three sets.
“I was a set down with not a lot of belief in me, and this crowd just picked me up, picked my intensity up and got me over the line,” De Minaur said, acknowledging the packed, cheering crowd.
“I just tried to be tough. I tried to find a way to just keep making balls and just trying to be that blue wall.
“Once I got on court I tried to make the most out of this occasion and I’m glad I came out with the win.”
His sixth-straight top-50 scalp follows last week’s breakthrough Brisbane International semifinal appearance.
The 18-year-old is Sydney’s youngest finalist since Lleyton Hewitt won in 2000 at the same age, and this latest display showcased a prodigious tenacity and persistence not unlike that of his mentor.
Hewitt observed from the stands of a packed-out Ken Rosewall Arena, while Tomas Berdych no doubt will have watched his first-round Australian Open opponent with intrigue from Melbourne.
De Minaur was nimble and creative and pulled off some spectacular shots, attacking Paire’s forehand in a bid to frustrate.
Amid a slew of long rallies, the pair held serve until 4-4 but De Minaur was the first to crack, going a break down after an error-ridden game before conceding the opening set.
The local returned with a vengeance in the second, breaking Paire to love to take a 3-1 lead and, for good measure, taking the next game to love too.
As De Minaur’s grip tightened on the match, Paire’s mental grasp slackened and the unforced errors piled up.
De Minaur was lucky with a net cord to break again and serve out the second set.
In the third, he was made to endure six deuces to hold one particularly gruelling service game but still won 11 of the last 12 games and, after being denied two match points, converted the third.