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De Minaur beats Tiafoe to reach second successive final

Italy Tennis ATP Next Gen

Alex De Minaur, of Australia, returns the ball to Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the ATP Next Gen tennis tournament semifinal match, in Milan, Italy, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)


MILAN -- Top-seeded Alex de Minaur beat Frances Tiafoe at the Next Gen Finals on Friday to reach his second successive final in Milan.

The Australian overcame second-seeded Tiafoe 4-2, 4-1, 0-4, 4-2 in the first semifinal of the season-ending tournament for top under-21 players.

The 20-year-old De Minaur dominated the match but had to recover from losing the third set. He sealed the victory on his first match point when Tiafoe hit a forehand into the net.

“It’s never easy playing someone like Frances. He has immense firepower and he’s never going to give up,” said De Minaur, who has lost just one of his nine matches at the Next Gen Finals.

“I didn’t have my best third set, but I was able to bounce back and come up clutch in that last game.”

De Minaur and Tiafoe are good friends on the circuit and that was shown by the American giving De Minaur a friendly slap on the head as he walked off court after the defeat.

“It’s difficult, but easier in some ways,” De Minaur said about facing a friend. “It’s easy because you know that no matter what happens on the court, you’re still going to be the best of friends. In the same manner, you’ve got to remember that you’re opponents.”

De Minaur, who is ranked No. 18, will be looking for a fourth ATP Tour title after victories this year in Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai.

Italian wild card Jannik Sinner plays Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the other semifinal at this year’s event, which features a unique format where each set is first to four games.

De Minaur lost the 2018 final in Milan to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.