AAP Tennis

De Minaur a gift to Aust tennis: Rod Laver

By AAP Newswire

Alex de Minaur has been hailed as a gift to Australian tennis by Rod Laver after signing off his breakout season with the ATP Tour Newcomer of the Year title.

Nineteen-year-old De Minaur was just pipped by world No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in a thrilling title decider of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan on Saturday night, succumbing 2-4 4-1 4-3 (7-3) 4-3 (7-3).

It was a typically full-blooded performance from the youngster who has soared from world No.208 to No.31 in 2019.

All-time great Laver was among those excited by what's in store with de Minaur set to enter the home summer as Australia's No.1 player and on course to be seeded at the Australian Open.

"Great match and congratulations @StefTsitsipas on your @nextgenfinals victory. Top of the class," said Laver on Twitter.

"As for @alexdeminaur - I am looking forward to seeing you play in Australia this summer. What a gift to Australian tennis."

De Minaur, the only teenager in the elite season-ending event for the best 21-and-under players, saved two match points at 3-2 down in the fourth set in the shortened format but his resistance ran out in the tiebreaker.

In the absence of Alexander Zverev, who skipped the event for the second year after qualifying for the ATP Finals, 20-year-old Tsitsipas was the top seed and he made no secret of how much he wanted to come out on top.

"It feels great. I've been playing some great tennis this week here in Milan," Tsitsipas said "It was a fantastic match.

"I stayed calm although I had a chance twice to win the match but remained calm."

Last year's runner-up Andrey Rublev required five sets to defeat Spaniard Jaume Munar in the playoff for third with the Russian prevailing 1-4 4-3 (7-4) 2-4 4-2 4-3 (7-3).