Alex De Minaur Becomes Youngest-Ever Atlanta Open Champion
By Herman Wood
(July 28, 2019) ATLANTA – The top Australian, 20 year old Alex de Minaur, took on the 21-year-old second highest ranked American in the final of the BB&T Atlanta Open on Sunday in Taylor Fritz. De Minaur, seeded second, survived 28 aces from Reilly Opelka in the quarterfinals, forced fellow Australian Bernard Tomic to retire and took down Bradley Klahn in the opening round to get to the finals. This was his fourth final. Fritz, seeded second, had a slightly easier path taking out qualifier Kevin King in his opening match, and the 19 year old Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarterfinal. Fritz started the match serving. He has served well this week. He started a little tight with his groundstrokes, missing into the net on the first two points. A scramble to pick up a net cord and a missed pass helped him save a break point. A big serve and a de Minaur forehand over the baseline and he managed a hold.
De Minaur had an easier hold with his first service game, holding at 15 with a couple of service winners to the Fritz forehand. It seemed Fritz shook off whatever the problem was in the first service game as he went through his second service game in no nonsense fashion holding easily. Fritz had to be precise with placements today, as de Minaur is one of, if not, the fastest guys on tour. Fritz was doing just that early on, painting both sidelines, one with a backhand and the other with a forehand, both struck down the line, along with an ace down the T to get to 3-2 with de Minaur to serve. In de Minaur’s prior matches, he has shown a willingness to go side to side over and over all the while adding his own pace, spin, and accurate placement. To get the hold to go to 3-3, he even followed a serve in and hit a drop volley that the crowd really appreciated.
Serving at 3-3, Fritz had already held off two break points. De Minaur managed to get a third one and Fritz put a bow on it for him with a double fault. An easy hold at love and de Minaur was in control, 5-3. He was using Fritz’ pace on the serve against him, sending the returns back with interest. De Minaur kept the pressure on, forcing Fritz to go for more than was wise. It is certain that a close miss running down a drop shot was on Fritz’s mind when he tried another down 15-40 and netted it to give de Minaur a well earned first set.
The second set stayed on serve through the whole set. Fritz seemed to be getting frustrated on de Minaur’s service game early in the set, throwing up his hands and talking to himself after points repeatedly. He was not making much headway towards breaking him. Fortunately for Fritz, he was holding fairly easily, keeping his confidence level. De Minaur finally had to dig a little to hold his fourth service game after two double faults helped Fritz out. An ace and missed Fritz return kept the set on serve, Fritz working from behind, serving 3-4 held easily only to see de Minaur do the same. It was up to Fritz, serving at 4-5, to stay in the match. The crowd could sense the drama, or perhaps it was just the dramatic music in the stadium. Either way, Fritz rolled out to quick 40-0 lead with big serving, punctuating the hold with a service winner to even the set again at 5-5. After both men quickly held serve, the set went to a tiebreaker.
No one had broken de Minaur through the whole tournament. A wide miss on the first point provided Fritz with a mini break, but de Minaur took it right back, along with another point to earn a full break of the Fritz serve, 2-1. De Minaur took the next point with an errant Fritz return to lead 3-1. Fritz kept working and managed to 2-3 via an overhead that de Minaur nearly ran into. After winning more rallies and extending his lead in the tiebreaker, de Minaur closed the match with a service winner and a shout 6-3, 7-6 (2)
The last tournament won by a player who did not get his serve broken was in Newport in 2017 by last year’s Atlanta champion John Isner.
The young American Fritz expressed his thanks, “I enjoyed the crowd support all week.” De Minaur started a bit of superstition this week, not shaving his upper lip, and has taken a bit of kidding as the tournament has progressed. “I might have to keep the mustache”. De Minaur is the second Australian to win the BB&T Atlanta Open.
In the doubles finals of the BB&T Atlanta Open, the number one seeded pair of Bob and Mike Bryan took on the second seeded Dominic Inglot of Great Britain, who was teamed with American Austin Krajicek. The Bryans were seeking their 120th tour title.
An early break of Mike Bryan’s serve put the Bryans in an early hole, 1-2. Inglot/Krajicek managed their service games well, staying out in front through 5-4. The break was due to some amazing hands work at the net by Inglot/Krajicek off what looked to be Bob Bryan winners. At 5-4, a couple of big aces on the first two points combined with a serve that set up a winning volley and then a net exchange that again went their way and Inglot/Krajicek took the first set 6-4. They faced no break points in the set. The only break point against the Bryans was won by Inglot/Krajicek and was all the difference in the set. The margin between winning and losing in professional doubles is razor thin.
With Krajicek serving at 1-2, Mike Bryan switched racquets with each point, returning with one and then changing when brother Bob was receiving. It did not appear to make any difference, as the game was won at love by Inglot/Krajicek. Well placed serves were sending framed returns into the stands on the side while ferocious overheads peppered the fans sitting on both ends. The set stayed on serve through 4-4. Inglot/Krajicek managed a couple of points against the Bryans service game with angled placements, and a ferocious backhand pass by Inglot forced a deciding point of the service game. A Mike Bryan overhead into Krajicek did the deed to give the Bryans the hold and 5-4. Inglot had to hold to extend the set to a tiebreaker. An ace and a winner helped his cause, along with what was a correct challenge to even the set at 5-5. A quick hold put the pressure on Krajicek this time to extend the set without benefit of the tiebreaker.
A sailed volley by Inglot pumped the Bryans up just a bit. Mike Bryan missed a return into the net to even the game at 15. Another missed Inglot volley, this time into the net gave the Bryans another jolt. A winning volley gave the Bryans three set points. A put away volley, an ace and the set was on a deciding point. Mike Bryan took the return, but Krajicek blasted an ace down the middle to force a set tiebreaker.
Again, with the margins razor thin, a mini break might be all it took to take the match. Another extended volley exchange went the way of Inglot/Krajicek and resulted in a lob winner. Bob Bryan stepped up to serve down 2-5. A service winner earned 3-5. A Mike Bryan overhead took the tiebreaker to 4-5, giving Inglot a chance to serve it out. He may have been feeling a bit of pressure, as he missed a routine volley into the net to even the tiebreaker at 5-5. Another tight volley into the net put the set onto Mike Bryan’s racquet. A big serve and an accurate volley won the set for the Bryans, 7-5.
The match went to a super tiebreaker. Inglot hit what appeared to be a double fault but was successfully challenged to replay the point on the first point. During the ensuing point, a fan screamed “out” from right behind a line judge causing Inglot to stop playing, thinking the ball had been called out. The point went to the Bryans. Inglot/Krajicek managed a mini break immediately, so perhaps karma was served. The Bryans managed a mini break back to get to 5-4 with a very well placed return. They handed it right back when Mike Bryan double faulted. He hit a service winner to keep the tiebreaker on serve. Inglot again stepped up to serve, under pressure, down 7-8, though on serve. He had even more pressure after a double fault, putting his team down 7-9 and match point, but hung on for 8-9. Bob stepped to the line with the match on his racquet, but a huge return of a second serve from Krajicek forced a miss, 9-9. An Inglot return to his feet put the match suddenly onto his racquet 10-9. He hit a huge serve that was simply too much. Dominic Inglot and Austin Krajicek were the champs, 6-4, 7-6(5), 11-9.
Bob took the credit for the loss on this one. He did say that, “We will be back, don’t know how many times, but we will be back.” It was their first loss in Atlanta, ever. Like Andy Roddick, they won their first tournament ever here a little earlier in their career.
Inglot thanked the crowd for their support and said, “We’d love to come back!”