De Minaur wins Next Gen ATP Finals opener
AUSTRALIA'S Alex de Minaur has cruised to a straight-sets win over Italian wildcard entrant Liam Caruana in his opening group match at the Next Gen ATP Finals.
The Australian second seed required just 55 minutes on Tuesday (local time) to record a 4-1 4-1 4-2 victory over an opponent ranked almost 600 places below him.
World No.31 De Minaur now has 25 tour-level wins in 2018, after he started the year with just two and a ranking of 208th.
"I've had a great year and I'm enjoying every second of it. I couldn't think of a better start today," the 19-year-old said in his on-court interview.
De Minaur saved both break points he faced against Caruana and won 51 per cent of return points in the win.
The Australian sits on top in Group B.
"The main thing was to be very intense. With this format every single point counts," he said.
"You have to try and take care of your service games and not get into those awkward suddendeath deuces that can only get you into trouble.
"Play aggressive and have some fun here."
De Minaur will face Andrey Rublev on Thursday morning (AEST). A win over the Russian in three or four sets would be enough to guarantee de Minaur - the only teenager in the eight-man round-robin event - a spot in the semi-finals.
Fifth-seeded Rublev, a 2017 finalist in the inaugural end-of-year tournament for the best 21-and-under players, needed five sets to see off American fourth seed Taylor Fritz 4-2 1-4 3-4 (7-4) 4-3 (7-2) 4-2.
Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas commenced his Group A campaign with a 4-3 (7-5) 4-3 (7-3) 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 victory over Spaniard Jaume Munar.
"It was very stressful from the beginning of the match. Every point counts. You can get broken any moment. So there was a lot of stress, many tie-breaks," the Greek world No.15 told the ATP website after almost two hours on court.
Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 6-1 at tour-level this season against fellow Next Gen ATP players.
"Great performance. Going to try to work on my serve in my next match and... grab my opportunity a little earlier because I didn't do so today," he said.
Tsitsipas will next play Frances Tiafoe, who was the day's other victor.
The American third seed accounted for Poland's Hubert Hurkacz 4-1 4-2 2-4 4-3 (12-10).