Alex de Minaur claims second ATP title of 2019, winning Atlanta Open. — Photo tennis.com.au
WASHINGTON — Australia's Alex de Minaur captured his second ATP title in dominant style on Sunday, dropping just 10 points on serve in a 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) triumph over Taylor Fritz in a battle of rising stars in Atlanta.
Third-seeded de Minaur, 20, became just the third player to win an ATP title without facing a break point since the tour began keeping stats in 1991.
German Tommy Haas did it in Memphis in 2007 and American John Isner managed the feat in Newport in 2017.
More importantly, de Minaur cemented his return from the groin injury that sidelined him for nearly two months after he claimed his maiden victory at Sydney in January.
"This one is really special to me," said de Minaur, who improved to 15-4 on hard courts this season with the US Open looming in August.
"I felt like I really needed this. To start the year with a bang and then be slowed down by injuries ... you expect your level to be right there once you come back, but you have to slowly grind your way back.
"I've been playing great tennis and felt like if I could keep it all together, the good results will come. This is a week that will really help me out."
De Minaur, the youngest ever to hoist the Atlanta trophy, lost just seven first-serve points in his four matches of the week -- holding in 42 service games.
His near-flawless display on serve again on Sunday heaped all the pressure on Fritz and the American was broken in the seventh game of the opening set with a double-fault on break point.
De Minaur broke again to pocket the first set when Fritz's drop shot effort failed to clear the net.
Neither player faced a break point in the second, and de Minaur was on the defensive early in the tie-breaker with a double fault on the first point.
He won the next three points, however, to seize control, gave himself match point with a service winner and let out a shout of satisfaction after a backhand volley winner sealed the triumph.
"I don't think I could start the American hardcourt season any better than this," de Minaur said. "I'm happy with where I am and enjoying every day."
Second-seeded Fritz, 21, is projected to reach a career-high ranking of 28th in the world on Monday despite the defeat.
"It was a good week," said Fritz, who claimed his first career title at astbourne last month.
"It's my first time being one of the top seeds and I made it to the final. It hurts so much to lose a final, but I'm still confident and will keep moving forward." — AFP