Lorenzo Sonego, who started the Vienna main draw as a lucky loser, has made it all the way to the finals in what was possibly the most star-studded ATP 500 event of the year.
Having knocked out World No 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals on Friday for the loss of just three games, the Italian defeated Dan Evans 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals on Saturday.
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The 25-year-old, who lost in the final round of qualifying against Aljaz Bedene in a tough three-setter, is yet to lose a set in the main draw. Sonego is the first lucky loser to reach the Vienna final since home favourite Andreas Haider-Maurer in 2010.
“It’s amazing. I started this tournament (by losing) in the qualies,” said the World No 42.
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“It’s not easy after losing my (qualifying) match to win four matches and now I got to the final. I don’t have any expectations. I go with confidence and I (will) try to do my best (in the final).
“This week I’ve improved my tennis for sure. I improved my return, my serve. I worked so hard and now I have the confidence to win this match and the experience. I needed to (get) some experience.”
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The Italian will take on World No 8 Andrey Rublev, who is gunning for his Tour-leading fifth title of the season, in Sunday’s final.
“I don’t know why it’s going so well,” Rublev said after his match.
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““I came here thinking that I have nothing to lose. I already did a really great season, so I came here to enjoy, to do my best, to fight for every point, every match, and now here I am in the final. I want to keep thinking in the same way and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Rublev is in red-hot form this year, having won 18 of his last 19 matches, and was leading Kevin Anderson 6-4, 4-1 in the semi-final when the South African retired due to a leg injury.
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The fifth seed, who eliminated defending champion Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals, has not dropped a set this week, nor has he lost any of his 28 service games.
The Russian has won two ATP 500 titles since the Tour restarted in August.