Alex de Minaur climbs to the highest rank of his career ahead of the Rotterdam final against Jannik Sinner | tennis

Alex de Minaur secured a place in the final of the Rotterdam Open with a clear revenge win against Grigor Dimitrov and thus earned the perfect 25th birthday present.

At the same event on de Minaur’s birthday in 2023, Bulgaria’s Dimitrov proved to be a real party man by knocking out the Australian No. 1 in the quarter-finals.

But the ‘Demon’ emphatically avenged that narrow defeat in the semi-finals on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) at the Rotterdam Ahoy Arena with a 6-4, 6-3 victory that set up a final showdown against Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner led.

Back in tournament action for the first time since his triumph at Melbourne Park, the top seed and number 4 in the world rankings Sinner defeated home favorite Tallon Griekspoor 6:2, 6:4 in the later semi-final.

De Minaur’s win ensured he will move up from his current 11th place to a career-high 9th place next week.

He had already avenged his painful defeat in the round of 16 of the Australian Open by defeating Andrey Rublev 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals on Friday.

“I am extremely happy with the level throughout the game,” said a delighted de Minaur after defeating Dimitrov.

“It was probably one of the better games I’ve played from start to finish. However, I always know that Grigor will raise his level and compete until the end, and I had to fight against some pretty difficult break points while playing some of my best tennis shots.”

De Minaur scored 14 winners and made just four unforced errors in his impressive 84-minute march.

“From the beginning I felt a very calm presence here in Rotterdam. I felt positive, I was calm and collected throughout the matches and I think that was a big key for me,” added de Minaur, who is also taking part in his first tournament since the Australian Open.

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The Sydneysider attributes his improved form to a stronger mentality that is gradually toughening him up in games against the very best players, a steely streak shared by the last Australian to win in Rotterdam 20 years ago, Lleyton Hewitt.

It’s no coincidence that de Minaur has been working so closely with his Davis Cup captain Hewitt of late, and he explained after Dimitrov’s win: “That’s my standard now, that’s what I have to bring with me every time I go forward .” the court.

“I think I’ve taken a big step in the right direction and shown week after week what kind of tennis I can play. I think I’ve raised the bar a little bit and hopefully there’s still a lot more to do.”

But Sinner is the acid test for him. If any player could give the Australian an inferiority complex, it is his 22-year-old Italian opponent, who has won all six games and lost just one set since their first meeting in the ATP NextGen finals in 2019.

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