Aussie demon continues ‘crazy’ rise
AUSTRALIA'S Alex de Minaur survived four match points to beat fellow young gun Andrey Rublev and reach his first ATP Tour 500-level final in Washington.
The 19-year-old fought back from a set down against Russian 16th seed Rublev and saved four match points to prevail 5-7 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in a high-quality Citi Open semi-final.
His reward is a clash with defending champion and world No. 3 Alexander Zverev in Sunday night's (AEST) final.
It will be de Minaur's second appearance in an ATP Tour final, having reached the decider at the lower-tier Sydney tournament in January.
"I'm incredibly proud of myself. I dug deep," De Minaur said.
"I just couldn't see myself going any further. But I kept pushing myself, kept trying every single point and managed to turn that around.
"That's probably the best win of my career."
His latest win continues a dramatic rise for de Minaur in 2018.
He started the year ranked No. 208 but he is set to crack the top 50 for the first time when rankings are updated on Monday and he will go to No. 33 if he beats Zverev.
All four semi-finalists at the Citi Open - Zverev, de Minaur, Rublev and Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas - are 21 or younger.
It is the first time four players of that age have reached the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour event since Buenos Aires in 1995.
While 20-year-old Rublev fell just short of reaching his first final at 500 level, he was competing in just his third tournament since a three-month hiatus due to a stress fracture in his lower back.
He was seeking a second ATP World Tour title, after claiming victory last year in Umag as a lucky loser.
Zverev beat 10th-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 6-4 in their semi-final to qualify for the decider.
The top-seeded German is looking to become the first back-to-back winner of the hard-court US Open tune-up since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008 and 2009.
Zverev has won 15 of 17 career matches in Washington.
"I'm playing great here," Zverev said. "Hopefully I can continue to do so (Sunday) and hopefully in the next few years, as well."
At 21, Zverev was the oldest player in the semi-finals along with the 19-year-old Tsitsipas and de Minaur and 20-year-old Rublev. Zverev joked after advancing: "I think I'm the only one that's allowed to buy a drink in the US, right?"
Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Germany's Andrea Petkovic 6-2 6-2 to reach the women's final.
The 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open winner will face seventh-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia or unseeded Zheng Saisai of China as she looks for her 18th WTA title.
Saisai beat American qualifier Allie Kiick 6-3 6-1 in the quarter-finals as she and Rublev were forced to play twice on the same day. Rublev beat local product Denis Kudla 6-1 6-4 before losing in three sets to de Minaur.
Rain throughout the week pushed action back and led to Andy Murray exiting the tournament.
The three-time major champion, coming back from hip surgery, finished his most recent match at 3am on Friday and decided to withdraw rather than play again so soon afterwards.
- with AP