After five days of exciting tennis at Milan, produced by eight of the best young talents in the world, we are now set to witness a perfect finish: a deserving final between the only two undefeated players in the tournament – world number 15 Stefanos Tsitsipas and world number 31 Alex de Minaur. But only one would remain undefeated at the end.
The two have met each other only once in the ATP circuit this year at Japan Open, in which Tsitsipas edged De Minaur in three sets. However, they have faced each other three more times last year at qualifiers, challenger and future level matches, and the Aussie has managed to win only one of those.
So, if one goes purely by head to head record, Tsitsipas does seem to have an edge over De Minaur. But a look at the way they have performed in this tournament would show that on current form, there is not much to choose from among the two.
They have both had almost identical performances en route to the final. The group stage was largely smooth-sailing for both of them. They won all their matches and lost only one set each in the group stage.
But it’s in the semi-final where they both encountered tough challenges. Tsitsipas managed to get past Andrey Rublev in a fifth set tie-breaker, and De Minaur was also taken to five sets by Jaume Munar in his semi-final encounter.
However, a closer look at the two semi-final matches would present a slightly different picture. They both had good first serve percentages. For the Greek, it was 71%, out of which he won 76%. And for the Aussie, the first serve percentage was at a whopping 75%, of which he won 76%.
But while Tsitsipas got broken three times, De Minaur was not broken even once. De Minaur lost the two sets only in the tie-breaks. So, coming into the final match, de Minaur seems to be in a better form, when it comes to serve.
There is no doubt that Tsitsipas is one of the most exciting young talents. His single-handed back hand has drawn comparisons with that of the great Roger Federer. However, it is that back hand that can come under pressure, when the match becomes tighter.
Alex de Minaur’s two-handed backhand is more workman like, but it lends a little bit more solidity to his game, compared to that of Tsitsipas. That, in the end, along with a slightly better serve, could be the difference between the two in the final.
Prediction: Alex de Minaur to win in 5 setsPublished 10 Nov 2018, 13:47 IST