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Alex de Minaur advances to Mexican Open final amid brutal top 10 reality

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Defending champion Alex de Minaur booked a return to the Acapulco ATP Finals on Friday as Jack Draper retired while trailing in the third set of his semi-final.

Australian de Minaur will fight for the title on Saturday with sixth-seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud, who rallied to beat second-seeded Holger Rune of Denmark 3-6 6-3 6-4.

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Third seed De Minaur was leading 6-3 2-6 4-0 when Draper ended his day with an undisclosed illness.

The Australian admitted he struggled to maintain his game plan as Britain’s Draper faded.

“I think those are the types of situations that are the hardest to control as a player, because you’re stuck between two minds,” de Minaur said.

“One spirit is, okay, you can see your opponent suffering. So let’s try to put the ball on the field and make it miss.

“What you really need to do is play the same style of tennis that got you to this point. It is therefore extremely difficult to concentrate in these situations, and it is often these matches that can become complicated.

The victory makes Minaur the first player to appear in back-to-back finals in Acapulco since David Ferrer in 2012-13 and the first since the court became a hardcourt after previously being a clay-court tournament.

Incredibly, de Minaur could fall out of the top 10 if he loses after winning last year.

It will also be Ruud’s second consecutive final against an Australian following his loss to Jordan Thompson at the Los Cabos Open last week.

De Minaur has proven to be a giant killer this year, having beaten Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov in tournaments this season.

He has also won all six semi-finals he has participated in since the start of 2023.

Draper, who had lost just 11 games in three matches to reach the semi-finals, was piling on the pressure when he received treatment from the ATP coach and tournament doctor at the end of the second set.

The southpaw was able to tie the match, but was hampered early in the third as de Minaur took a 4-0 lead, and Draper called it quits after being broken a second time.

De Minaur said he wished Draper a “speedy recovery.”

“He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent and I hope it’s nothing too serious,” said de Minaur, who just finished second to Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner in Rotterdam .

Ruud fought back from a breakdown in the third set, taking advantage when Rune seemed slowed by cramps.

“Unforced errors crept up on him and I served very well in the last game to close the match,” Ruud said.

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