TORONTO — Alex de Minaur uses the same approach whether he’s working on drills, hitting balls at practice or playing a high-level match.
No matter the stakes, he aims for a full-intensity effort until the very end. It’s a credo that paid off Friday with a tenacious 7-6 (7), 7-5 win over second-seeded Daniil Medvedev at the National Bank Open.
“That kind of creates an aura, a presence, that at times does help,” de Minaur said. “Because there are obviously going to be times that I’m down and then I play some unbelievable tennis to get myself back into the match.”
It also doesn’t hurt when you’re gifted double-faults at critical junctures.
De Minaur came back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set and 1-5 down in the tiebreaker. The Australian completed the win in just over two hours to reach his first career Masters 1000 semifinal.
“I was very level-headed and at no point in that match did I feel frazzled at all,” de Minaur said. “I knew my game plan. I stuck to it.”
Medvedev, the 2021 NBO Toronto champion, struggled with his serve at inopportune times on a warm, sunny and breezy afternoon at Sobeys Stadium.
The Russian served for the first set at 5-3 but double-faulted on break point. De Minaur followed with a hold to pull even.
In the tiebreaker, Medvedev raised his fist skyward after winning a long rally for a 5-1 advantage. But de Minaur chipped away and saved three set points — including one on a double-fault — before taking an 8-7 lead.
The Australian converted on his first set point when a Medvedev shot sailed long.
In the second set, Medvedev was up 4-3 when he double-faulted on break point. His seventh double-fault overall came on match point.
Medvedev said he has a tendency to really “go for” the second serve.
“There’s always a question, like maybe you hit some double-faults but maybe you also hit some good (serves) at important moments,” he said.
Medvedev, who has won five ATP Tour titles this year, fell to 22-4 at Masters 1000 events and 31-4 on hard courts this season.
De Minaur will next face Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in a battle of unseeded players.
Davidovich Fokina pulled away in the second set of the early quarterfinal for a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Mackenzie McDonald.
“He was playing amazing at the beginning and then made a few mistakes and I believed more in myself,” Davidovich Fokina said. “It gave me a lot of power.”
De Minaur, the world No. 18, has knocked off three seeded players this week in Medvedev, eighth-seeded Taylor Fritz and No. 11 Cameron Norrie.
The 37th-ranked Spaniard, meanwhile, has wins over No. 3 Casper Ruud and 13th-seeded Alex Zverev.
“I think we’ve both shown that we kind of deserve to be here by the opponents we’ve beaten,” de Minaur said. “So it shows that we’re both playing some great tennis. We’re both playing some confident tennis.”
In the evening session, top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz of Spain was scheduled to play 12th-seeded American Tommy Paul. Seventh-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner was to meet Gael Monfils of France in the late match.
McDonald was coming off a third-round victory over local favourite Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont. Raonic, a wild-card entry, was the last of the five Canadian singles players to be eliminated.
Play continues through Sunday at the US$7.62-million tournament.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 11, 2023.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press