MILAN (Reuters) - Wildcard Jannik Sinner completed a dream run when he beat top-seeded Alex de Minaur to win the final of the Next Gen tournament for the season's best Under-21 players on Saturday.
To the delight of the home crowd, the Italian won 4-2 4-1 4-2 to become the third winner of the tournament after South Korean Chung Hyeon and Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.
In a good omen for Sinner, both Tsitsipas and Chung reached the Australian Open semi-finals two months after capturing their titles.
"The week has been unbelievable," said 18-year-old Sinner. "The crowd... You can hear them now. I’m very happy... I wouldn't be here without the wildcard, so thanks to everyone. I hope to be back here next year."
Sinner saved all nine break points he faced while breaking his Australian opponent three times, once in each set.
His win completed a season which has seen him jump more than 450 spots in the ATP Rankings to his current 95th, making him the youngest player inside the Top 100.
He also reached his maiden ATP Tour semi-final in Antwerp, scored his first ATP Masters 1000 victory in Rome and qualified for his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.
"Jannik was too good," De Minaur said.
(Writing by Brian Homewood)