Daniil Does It! Medvedev Wins First Title
If the youngest ATP World Tour final since Rafael Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic at the 2007 BNP Paribas Open was a sign of things to come, then the futures for both Daniil Medvedev and Alex de Minaur are plenty bright.
But after a two-hour, 13-minute battle at the Sydney International on Saturday, it was Medvedev who earned his first ATP World Tour title, fending off a gutsy comeback by the home favourite with a 1-6, 6-4, 7-5 triumph just about a year after appearing in his first final in Chennai (l. to Bautista Agut).
For a moment, it seemed the victory was in serious jeopardy of slipping the World No. 84's grasp.
The Ken Rosewall Arena crowd was on its feet, roaring in support of the 18-year-old Australian. Former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt was out of his seat, pumping his fist to encourage his mentee, who has been compared to Hewitt himself for his competitive edge and grittiness.
Suddenly, a 4-0 Medvedev lead in the final set was wiped away. De Minaur saved one match point while serving at 3-5, 30/40 with a forehand volley. And the 'Blue Wall' — the teenager has credited the nickname to the New South Wales State of Origin rugby team, which is known by the same name for its fearsome defence — seemed to be swallowing the Russian whole with incredible defence. Medvedev served for the match at 5-4, but de Minaur broke to 15 to level affairs.
De Minaur, the youngest finalist on the ATP World Tour since Taylor Fritz at 2016 Memphis, appeared he would use the massive wave of momentum to become the youngest champion since Kei Nishikori at 2008 Delray Beach. But the comeback came to an abrupt halt.
While the World No. 167 did overcome a 0/40 deficit serving at 5-5, he could not save a fourth break point. And although de Minaur displayed the gutsy defence that got him back into the match, he netted a forehand to give Medvedev another chance to serve for the match, an opportunity he would not waste again. The 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier came up with clutch serves, closing out the battle to love when the courageous de Minaur put a low slice backhand into the net.
The 21-year-old Russian is the fourth qualifier to raise the trophy in Sydney since 2003, and he claims 250 ATP Rankings points as well as $83,650 for his efforts. De Minaur earns 150 points and $44,055 for making his first ATP World Tour final.