Alex de Minaur wins Antalya Open in Turkey, Bernard Tomic qualifies for Australian Open - ABC News

 proxy.yoo.workers.dev  01/13/2021 12:49:43 

CAlex de Minaur has opened his 2021 season in style, claiming the first ATP title on offer for the year and his fourth overall, with success at the Antalya Open in Turkey.

  • The world number 23 dropped just one set on his way to the title
  • He looking forward to returning to Australia for the rescheduled Australian Open
  • The title is De Minaur's fourth on the ATP Tour

The Australian number one was leading Alexander Bublik 2-0 in Wednesday's final when the Kazakh retired injured just seven minutes into the match.

The 21-year-old world number 23 dropped only one set for the week in a promising build-up to next month's rescheduled Australian Open in Melbourne.

"I mean, it's massive. At the start of the year that's what you need," de Minaur said after following up his semi-final win over second-seeded world number 16 David Goffin in a somewhat anticlimactic title decider.

"I just think I gave myself the best possible chance to go deep into this tournament and I'm happy how it finished.

"I got four matches  and today  so very happy with my level and I had some quality wins."

Nick Kyrgios lifts up Alex De Minaur in celebration.
Alex De Minaur and Nick Kyrgios were quite the tandem early in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic hit.(AAP: Mark Evans)

De Minaur missed his home grand slam last year in shattering fashion, an abdominal strain forcing him out of the tournament following a heroic ATP Cup campaign for Australia.

"It was a bittersweet moment last year so hopefully a year later I can come back stronger and hopefully have a great Aussie summer," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to going back home and playing in front of a home crowd, that's for sure."

His stomach injury aside, the COVID-19 pandemic further stalled his progression last year, following a breakout three-title season in 2019.

But the fleet-footed baseliner, now the youngest player in the world's top 25, came back with a vengeance when the tour resumed.

De Minaur made a career-best charge to the US Open quarter-finals in 2020, upstaging a succession of heavy hitters en route to the last eight, then reached the final in Antwerp to finish ahead of Nick Kyrgios as Australia's top-ranked player in 2020.

Kyrgios himself barely played any matches once the world was plunged into a pandemic, preferring to stay in Canberra and train.

Tomic qualifies for Australian Open after he 'risked his life'

One year after reaching a career low point when he failed to qualify for the Australian Open, former world number 17 Bernard Tomic has punched his ticket to the delayed first grand slam of the year.

Tomic, who still appeared to be nowhere near the level of play fans saw early on in his career, battled past Australian veteran John-Patrick Smith 6-4 5-7 7-6 (10-7) to become the only Australian to make it through qualifying.

While Tomic won the match, it was an uphill battle as Smith frequently attacked the net and kept Tomic moving around the court, employing drop shots and low balls, showing Tomic's much maligned movement had not improved.

What had improved was the 28-year-old's resolve to win.

He admitted post match that he was "physically pretty bad", but he was dogged on the court.

Tomic fought back from 4-1 down in the opening set to reel off six straight games and take it.

He also fought back from 3-0 down in the second set before Smith steadied and broke Tomic to take it 7-5 and send the match into a decider.

That set was extremely tight with neither player breaking serve, and it was Smith who cracked ever so slightly as two tight line calls went against him late in the third set to send it into a match tiebreak.

"No, that was not wide & two times in two games," he complained to the umpire to no avail.

Tomic raced out to an early 3-0 lead in the match tiebreak and despite Smith getting it back to 4-4, Tomic was never headed and a couple of aces were punctuated by a searing forehand winner to take the match.

Tomic also showed he had plenty of fight left in him off the court as he took aim at his critics.

"I am in Doha, I risked my life flying here, my health, COVID's around, many sick, with many things that can go wrong. I'm risking my life, and I'm playing and competing. Of course, I want to get there," he said, when asked if his tennis ambitions still burned.

He followed that up by demanding favourable media coverage.

"You're the people who write the bad stuff about me," Tomic said.

"I don't think you guys have been fair towards me in the last half-decade, [or] decade. You can spin it whatever way you want, but don't escape the fact I've qualified for a slam."

"If you like me and you're a fan of me, write nice."

AAP/ABC

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