Sunny day in Estoril and sunny day in the Portuguese souls, as the home player João Domingues brings some joy to the crowd by defeating Alex de Minaur in three sets. He advances to the second round of the Millennium Estoril Open.
First set to Domingues
João Domingues started the match on serve and won the first game at love. Alex de Minaur started with a double-fault and had a very tough first serve game, but after saving one break point, he was able to level the game at one all. the next game was finished with a smash from Domingues, who was spinning the ball to push de Minaur to the end of the court.
At 2-1, the Australian was serving and it was a decisive game to the first set, as he was leading 40-15 and his opponent made a forehand down the line to win the next point. After this, Domingues leveled the game at 40-40 and won the next point with a double-fault from his foe to turn the advantage to his side. De Minaur won the next point but it was not enough to stop João from having another advantage and from breaking his serve.
Leading 3-1, João Domingues held his serve easily. As did the Portuguese, the younger player did it too in the next game, to minimize the difference to 4-2. In the next game, Alex started to make more pressure and had the chance to break the Portuguese back. He had two break points but João made a very good service and was more aggressive. De Minaur tried an amortie but failed and it was advantage to Domingues. The younger player failed the return and sent the ball to the net to make João held his service game.
Serving to stay in the set, Alex de Minaur lost the first two points of the game. He got the next one but was not able to win more and João Domingues conquered the set by 6-2.
A new set, a new winner, but the same score
The second set had a different story to tell. Domingues started on serve, as in the first set, and held it easily on the first game of this set. Alex de Minaur started to approach more to the net and to make more pressure on his opponent.
The set was leveled at 1-1 and João was trying to pursue the leadership, which was not possible to do as he missed an easy ball on the net and the Australian got the first break of the set. The wind was getting stronger and he made a double-fault to begin the game. Domingues smashes the ball in front of the net in the next point and de Minaur was facing a 0-30. In one of the longest games of the match, he faced two break points but was able to hold the service, after three deuces.
The ATP NextGen star almost took a second break of advance but hit a ball in the net and lost the next point which gave the Portuguese the second game of the set. At the sixth game of the set, there was only one way because de Minaur held at love. He was dominating 4-2 when he got another break at the third break point of that game. Leading 5-2, the Australian received medical treatment. Remember, he has not been playing due to a hip injury. This is his first tournament since Indian Wells. Nevertheless, serving for the set, it was not difficult for Alex to close the set and level the match. The set ended 6-2.
Windy third set to the home player
Like it happened on the previous sets, João Domingues started to serve. But this time, he held at love like in the first set. Alex de Minaur was leading 40-15 in his service game, but the Portuguese made a lot of pressure leading de Minaur to commit some errors. At the third break point, the younger player failed at the net and Domingues consolidated the lead of the last set.
Domingues serving for the 3-0 and his rival was still making errors and putting the ball in the net, which led to the 25 years old player confirm his service game. The next game was easier for the sixth seed, as he just let João win one point. The match was getting better and better as the rallies were getting bigger and harder for the players. The crowd was very loud and there were fans supporting both players. The Portuguese was going further in the court and making more pressure to his foe, which led to a magnificent point to make the 4-1.
Alex de Minaur was fighting to recover the difference on the scoreboard and held at love after three winners, two of them with his backhand. With a backhand down the line, João Domingues confirmed his serve game and started to lead by 5-2. The pressure was too much and when serving to stay in the match, de Minaur succumbed and, even though he saved a match point, lost the match.
João Domingues won 6-2 2-6 6-2 in 1 hour and 55 minutes. This is the highest ranked player the Portuguese defeated. The previous one was Kyle Edmund when he was 42nd on ATP, two years ago in the first round here in Estoril.
Alex de Minaur
"I felt better. It's going to be a process coming back but I've got a period where I'm prepared to know I'm not going to feel a hundred percent.", said the Australian after a month and a half away from the courts.
About the match, he admitted that he "knew coming here was always going to be a tough match and João played some great tennis, obviously. He was able to play better than me in the important stages of the match and he deserves the win."
He also made statements about his opponent: "He is a very dangerous guy. Can hurt you with his forehand and has a very good kick serve and on this surface."
"I didn't feel playing the best match of my life but I'm very happy to have defeated Alex de Minaur, who is a great player. The conditions were very hard and definitely was not the best match of my life.", stated João Domingues in his press conference.
The Portuguese told how he prepared for the match with his team: "Alex de Minaur is a typical hard court player, he plays better on hard courts, enjoys to raise the rhythm and plays very well in the counterattack. He has a little bit of trouble in the variation of the altitude of the ball, and I bet on that. He has a great backhand, and his weakest stroke is the running forehand, and I tried to explore it."
João Domingues will now face either Bernard Tomic or John Millman in the second round.
Alex de Minaur will head to Mutua Madrid Open.