This is a good semifinal matchup featuring two past ATP Eastbourne champions. De Minaur is the reigning champ, and Fritz took the title in 2019, and both are having comparable seasons this year. De Minaur has the better record on grass, and owns a small H2H advantage, with a win over Fritz on grass in a 2018 Challenger. He should be the favorite here, but the stats are not so sharp that it can’t go either way.
ATP Eastbourne Semifinal Preview: Taylor Fritz vs Alex de Minaur
Taylor Fritz is still trying to get off the ground after a return from injury following a strong start to the season. The potential is always there, but occasional lapses along with frequent injuries make it difficult to know what to expect from the American. When healthy, though, we’ve seen his very high capabilities, demonstrated earlier this year by his title in Indian Wells. He has obviously hit a high level before here in Eastbourne as well, having taken home the trophy a few years back. If that Taylor Fritz shows up, de Minaur will be in for a long night.
Fritz’s attacking style should put de Minaur on the run for most of the match. And though that’s a place where the Aussie is usually comfortable, a lot of his excellent chasedowns result in floaty balls, the kind which Fritz’s forehand eats up. Fritz on grass certainly has the capability, forehand and backhand, to hit through the court and limit the effectiveness of de Minaur’s speed.
Serve Favors Fritz
Fritz obviouly has the advantage on serve. He has hit 17 aces in four sets this tournament, compared to 13 from de Minaur in seven sets. De Minaur is quick enough on the return to block some of those back, but as mentioned before, floaters are not going to cut it. Fritz creates pace well on those kinds of balls, and is comfortable attacking into the corners. Poor returns should be easy putaways for the big man. He may also be wise to sprinkle in some serve-and-volley, and has the touch at the net to pull it off.
I would expect both players to attack the second serve. This is especially necessary for de Minaur, given the dearth of opportunities he’ll find on Fritz’s first, but I think the American will take advantage of his aggressiveness and pounce on the uninspiring second serve of the Aussie. This favors Fritz, because de Minaur will likely need to make up some ground on second serve points to account for Fritz’s first serve dominance.
De Minaur Cannot be Counted Out
It seems like every time I can’t de Minaur out, he comes through. He has an exceptional blend of defensiveness and offensiveness, and though he is probably more well-known for the defense because of his speed, he converts to offense instantly, especially on the forehand. The ability to chase down balls all over the court and then respond to them offensively is not only difficult to keep up with physically, but it creates a mental challenge. A player hits a good shot and thinks he is the aggressor, then finds himself responding to an instant attack from de Minaur on a ball that some players might not have even gotten to. That adjustment can be a challenge.
This clash of Eastbourne champions should be a bit of a frenzied battle. Both will look to go on the attack with good forehands, and de Minaur will be running all over the court, while Fritz may look to utilize the grass court net advantage by coming forward. A lot depends on which version of each player shows up, especially Fritz, but I think each will be geared up to return to the final and will dig in deep. It should be a good match.
Main Photo from Getty.