2021 Viking International Eastbourne

Men’s Final Preview: De Minaur and Sonego set to battle

Lengthy rallies expected in battle of attrition and power

Alex De Minaur, yet to drop a set at Devonshire Park, soared into the final with a comfortable 6–3 7–6(2) triumph over South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo to make it seven victories on grass this year.

The big-serving Australian no.1 will be favourite to overcome plucky Lorenzo Sonego, the Italian who plays with a passion, having only been broken four times in his three matches and with the ability to constantly return with aplomb.

De Minaur’s Eastbourne tactics are straight out of any coaching manual, serve deep and keep returning to the backhand before whipping it cross court. The no.2 seed and world no.18 has not been truly tested all week, reaching the final with straightforward wins over Britain’s Liam Broady, Canadian Vasek Pospisil and Kwon.

On grass he reached the quarter-finals at Stuttgart in Germany, raced to the semi-finals at Queen’s in London and now finds himself handed an extremely easy passage to the Eastbourne final.

The final will be a different proposition. His opponent has dropped just one set to make the final. Sonego powered his way past Australian John Millman, Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, but was then put to the sword by Australian Max Purcell 6–1 3–6 6–1 in a topsy-turvy contest. Purcell, who made the main draw as a lucky loser from qualifying was hampered by both a back injury and fatigue.

The no.3 seed usually opts to deliver wide serves to open up the court in order to take control of the rallies, but the problem is that De Minaur tends to be so rapid around court that he should have the winning edge for this encounter.

With the Centre Court now worn, Sonego’s sheer power will not benefit as much as earlier in the week. This should allow De Minaur to continue his ruthless streak of grinding down opponents with lengthy rallies. However, Sonego makes very few unforced errors and thrives on hitting the ball early, so the spectators could be treated to a series of spectacular rallies in what promises to be a mouthwatering contest.

World no.27 Sonego has enjoyed an impressive season by reaching the 4th Round at Miami, winning the title on Italian clay in Cagliari and then zooming into the semi-finals at Rome. On grass his only flaw, as seen during his semi-final against Purcell, is his inability to hit passing shots when the opponent is at the net.

Sonego, whose inaugural ATP Tour crown was the grass court title at the 2019 Antalya Open in Turkey, goes into his fourth final full of energy and brimming with confidence.

De Minaur will tackle his second final this season, having scooped the rescheduled hard court Antalya Open in January, and will be aiming to be as ruthless as he was when he swept aside Sonego in straight sets in Paris.

Prediction | De Minaur in three sets

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