#NextGenATP Tiafoe Saves 3 MPs In Estoril
#NextGenATP De Minaur earns first tour-level clay-court win
#NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe was down and almost out of the Millennium Estoril Open on Monday against compatriot Tennys Sandgren. But the 20-year-old battled until the end, and it paid dividends.
Tiafoe recovered from a 5/3 deficit in the second-set tie-break and saved three match points in the decider to beat Sandgren 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) to advance to the second round in Portugal, setting a second-round clash against No. 4 seed Gilles Muller.
The Delray Beach Open champion is now 3-0 this year in third-set tie-breaks (also def. Edmund and Berdych in Miami), and 3-0 at all levels against Sandgren when it comes to a final-set tie-break. He is now also 5-0 at all levels against the 26-year-old Tennessean — this was their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
After coming from a break down in the third set, Sandgren had all the momentum and earned two match points on Tiafoe's serve at 5-4. But Sandgren allowed Tiafoe to take all the risks in the crucial moments, missing a return long to let slip the first match point before his younger opponent played aggressively from the baseline on the second match point, finishing with a forehand drop volley. Later in the game, on match point No. 3, Tiafoe dangerously approached to the Houston finalist's backhand, but Sandgren sailed the passing shot just long. Tiafoe never trailed in the ensuing tie-break, clinching his triumph in two hours, 51 minutes.
Another #NextGenATP player in Aussie Alex de Minaur was also successful on Monday, earning the first tour-level clay-court victory of his career by defeating Portuguese home favourite Gastao Elias 6-3, 6-1.
It is the 19-year-old’s first tour-level win since he claimed his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumph at the BNP Paribas Open in March. De Minaur continues his ascent after beginning the season 7-1 with a semi-final appearance in Brisbane and his first ATP World Tour final in Sydney. He also advanced to the championship match at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Alicante, Spain earlier this month, losing against Pablo Andujar, who would win the Grand Prix Hassan II trophy the following week.
The wild card saved all nine break points he faced against Elias, whose serve he broke four times to advance in one hour, 26 minutes. De Minaur, who is at a career-best No. 111 in the ATP Rankings, is nearing a breakthrough into the Top 100. Third seed Kyle Edmund, the British No. 1, awaits the teenager in the second round.
While Elias was unable to earn a win for the Portuguese crowd, wild card Pedro Sousa was. The home favourite eliminated former World No. 6 Gilles Simon 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4) in two hours, 45 minutes. Sousa was the aggressor throughout the match, finishing off his first Top 100 victory in an ATP World Tour match with a swinging volley.