Viking International Eastbourne 2021: De Minaur claims first grass court title in Eastbourne
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Alex de Minaur won his maiden grass court title at the Viking International Eastbourne after coming back from a set down to beat third seed Lorenzo Sonego 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in two hours and 42 minutes.
The Australian completes an impressive run in the build up to Wimbledon – which has also seen him reach the semi-finals at the cinch Championships – by lifting his fifth career ATP Tour trophy. The win will see him rise to a new career high ranking of No.15 in the world.
Both players have looked head and shoulders above the rest of the draw this week and with differing styles and strengths, the match up had everything you’d want in a contest.
Sonego’s fast serving has been an excellent asset for him over the grass court so far, but in de Minaur he found himself up against one of the tour’s best returners on the surface.
It was the Australian who dealt the first blow as Sonego’s approach was met by a phenomenal backhand winner down the line to tee up the first break point of the match. With the pressure on, Sonego attempted an ambitious drop shot which rippled the net cord, giving the second seed the advantage.
Rather than letting his head drop after conceding a break so early on in the match, the Italian responded well. His combinations of play were a wonder to watch as he effortlessly ran de Minaur out wide on the backhand over and over before crushing a forehand down the line. He broke back for 2-2.
Break points came and went for both players but at 5-4 up, Sonego seized his chance. A poor slice approach shot from de Minaur was greeted by a huge forehand which was then followed by a guided winner down the line – first set, Sonego.
Having lost his first set of the week, the World No.18 came back fighting. He pounced on the second serve with a deep backhand down the line and neatly put away the subsequent volley to seal an opening game break.
The Australian has had the highest percentage of points won on first serve all week at 79% and despite his opponents best efforts, he held his nerve to clinch the set.
A hot contest in every sense of the term was always going to boil down to the finest of margins. In a competitive deciding set, neither player gave an inch with zero break points for either side. The fast free flowing rallies became slightly cagier and it was soon clear that the match would be decided on the tie-break.
De Minaur struck the first blow in the tie-break, edging ahead with a mini break, but not for long as the Italian came back and hit one of the shots of the day with a passing forehand hit on the tightest of angles.
At 5-5 the Australian constructed a perfect point which he followed in with a winning volley. On championship point and sensing his moment on the second serve, once again he came into the net and tucked away a smash to complete his victory.
“There’s a lot of relief and a lot of excitement,” he said.
“It’s been a great week and I’ve played some great tennis and I managed to pull through a very tough win today. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the amazing crowd support, which has been so missed for many months and the last year.
“Hopefully I can keep it going through Wimbledon and I can’t wait to get there next week.”