Alex de Minaur has finished just short of the biggest win of his burgeoning tennis career, with Australia crashing out of the ATP Cup with a semi-final loss to Spain.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal showed his class with a 4-6 7-5 6-1 win over the 20-year-old, after Nick Kyrgios delivered his poorest match of the tournament in going down to Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 6-4.
Alex De Minaur v Rafael Nadal – ATP Cup Highlights
“It was tough at the beginning of the match. Alex was playing at a very high level,” Nadal said post-match.
“It’s been a very emotional evening.”
At one point of the match Nadal was seen visibly frustrated by de Minaur’s dominance, venting at his team bench.
Nadal goes at his team during semi final
“Even if we are here in Australia, this is a country that has big respect for tennis. I can’t thank you enough for the support.”
Spain will play the Novak Djokovic-led Serbia in Sunday night’s final. The Serbs beat Russia 3-0 in the first semi-final.
Alex De Minaur takes first set against Nadal
Kyrgios’s defeat had left de Minaur needing an unlikely victory to push the match to a deciding doubles clash.
But adopting a similarly aggressive game plan to Belgium’s David Goffin, who downed Nadal on Friday night, de Minaur was outstanding, hitting winner after winner to put the 19-time grand slam champion on the back foot.
Nadal takes the second set
Breaking Nadal on his first service game, he held firm to take the opening set and went toe-to-toe with the Spaniard for much of the second.
After a break-point chance at 5-5 to serve for the match, things started to unravel for de Minaur who’d lost in straight sets to Nadal in their two previous encounters.
De Minaur ‘is out hitting Nadal’
Nadal snatched the set with his only opportunity as part of a run of six-consecutive games to effectively seal the match.
The irrepressible de Minaur pinched a break back but it wasn’t enough as Nadal avoided losses in back-to-back matches for the first time since October 2016.
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