Playing with a confidence and maturity that belies his years, Australian Alex de Minaur continued his assault at the Sydney International on Thursday night.

Under the guidance of Lleyton Hewitt, who, 20 years ago captured his first ATP World Tour crown as a 16-year-old in Adelaide, World No. 167 de Minaur put Spain’s Feliciano Lopez, a player twice the teenager’s age, to the sword 6-4, 6-4 in 86 minutes.

“It was lots of fun,” said de Minaur, smiling. “I reckon it’s probably my latest night I played, and it was great to play in front of such an energetic crowd – especially to play on your home court, it meant a lot for me to get that win.”

The 18-year-old de Minaur became the lowest-ranked Sydney semi-finalist since then No. 223 Andrey Cherkasov in 1989 and will next face the talented Frenchman Benoit Paire.

“It’s going to be another match,” said de Minaur. “I’m going to get out there and do what I have been doing. It’s going to be fun. He’s a very talented player, who plays at a very high level. I’m just going to go out there, try to weather the storm, and try to play my game.”

De Minaur improved to 6-1 in 2018 after he broke Lopez’s serve in the ninth game of the first set, then in the first and fifth games of the second set for a 4-1 lead. Although Lopez, who make his ATP World Tour debut in April 1998 at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, fought to get back on level terms, de Minaur’s consistency was too much.

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Paire reached his second ATP World Tour semi-final of the new season when he knocked out defending champion Gilles Muller.

A break of serve in each set – the seventh game of the first, and the fifth game of the second set – proved to be enough, coupled with 17 aces, for the talented Frenchman in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 72 minutes.

Read Feature: The Two People Who Push Muller To Success

Paire has now beaten Muller in three of their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings. He will be hoping to go one better than at last week’s Tata Open Maharahtra, where he lost to Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals.

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