Tomic sets up Fognini final in Chengdu
In Chengdu, Bernard Tomic advances to his first ATP final in two years and will return to the world's top 100. Alex De Minaur, however, lost a heartbreaker in Shenzhen.
The Bernard Tomic comeback is gathering momentum with the Australian reaching his first ATP final in more than two and a half years after a straight-sets win in Chengdu on Saturday.
Tomic looked back to his crafty best in a 6-4 6-4 win over Portugal’s Joao Sousa and will now meet top seeded Italian Fabio Fognini in the final on Sunday.
He narrowly missed out on being joined in another Chinese decider by compatriot Alex de Minaur, who held a match point only to lose his Shenzen semifinal against Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5 2-6 7-6(8).
Tomic was dominant on serve in Chengdu with 12 aces, winning 82 per cent of points when his first delivery landed.
He captured a break in each set and continually frustrated his opponent with his deep and flat shots.
Things tightened when Tomic served for the match at 5-4 and Sousa established a 0-40 lead.
But the Australian hung tough and won five consecutive points on serve to seal the result.
It will be his first final since losing to Austrian star Dominic Thiem at Acapulco in February 2016.
Forced as he has been for much of the past year to come through the qualifying round, he has now won six matches on the hop at the Chinese tournament.
The win has him projected to rise from No.123 in the world to No.92 and now in the zone to qualify directly for the Australian Open.
A win in Chengdu, which would be a fourth career title, would lift him into the world’s top 80.
Fognini, a 6-7(5) 6-0 6-3 winner over American Taylor Fritz in their semifinal, will be a warm favourite to beat Tomic given his world ranking of No.13 and 2-1 career record against the Australian.
Meanwhile, De Minaur again showed the fighting qualities which have marked his young career, coming back from 0-3 down in the decider to almost steal the match against Herbert.
The 19 year-old levelled the match in the third set and pushed the Frenchman to a tiebreak. He held a match point at 6-5 on Herbert’s serve but a clutch volley off a let cord saw his opponent hold on before going on to take the tiebreak 10-8.