Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur will meet in the championship match of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, after both went the distance in respective victories on Friday.
Aussie De Minaur’s breakthrough season got even better in the early match, as the 19-year-old defeated Spaniard Jaume Munar 3-4(5), 4-1, 4-1, 3-4(4), 4-2.
De Minaur is now an impressive 28-22 on the year after entering 2018 with just two tour-level match wins to his record. The second seed has not lost a match at the Fiera Milano, winning Group B before battling past Munar in exactly two hours.
While De Minaur and Munar had never contested a FedEx ATP Head2Head match before, Munar had won their two previous professional meetings, both in straight sets. One of those clashes came in the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Segovia, Spain last August, when the Spaniard lifted his first trophy at that level. Munar cruised past his Aussie counterpart in that match, triumphing in just 70 minutes.
De Minaur was in uncharted territory, having lost just one set throughout round-robin play, but he quickly regrouped. He is now Australia's highest ranked player at No. 31.
Afterwards, the Greek World No. 15 was also tested but eventually saw his way past last year's finalist, Russian Andrey Rublev, 4-3(3), 3-4(5), 4-0, 2-4, 4-3(2).
Also undefeated in group play, top seed Tsitsipas claimed the win and the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year trophy.
Having gone to three sets in Tokyo last month at the Rakuten Japan Open, Tsitsipas said he was ready for the challenge.
"I'm going to have to play differently than today," he said post-match. "And press, but not over-press, because that's what he's waiting for. Be wise, be patient on the court and make him move, make him run."