The Auckland title is coming down to a battle between Juan Martin Del Potro and Roberto Bautista Agut on Saturday. A more surprising final matchup in Sydney, meanwhile, pits qualifier Daniil Medvedev against special exemption Alex de Minaur.
(5) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. (2) Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Potro and Bautista Agut will be facing each other for the fifth time in their careers when they clash in the Auckland title match on Saturday afternoon. The head-to-head series, the entirety of which has been played on hard courts, stands at 3-1 in favor of Del Potro–who has won three in a row against Bautista Agut since getting upset at the 2014 Australian Open. They squared off twice last season, with the Argentine prevailing 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 at the U.S. Open and 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in Basel.
After destroying the Spaniard in New York, Del Potro made an incredible run to the semifinals that included the comeback of the year against Dominic Thiem and a defeat of Roger Federer. The current world No. 12 went 20-5 in his last 25 matches during the 2017 campaign and he is off to a 3-0 start this season thanks to Auckland victories over Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, and David Ferrer. Bautista Agut, a one-time champion of this event just like Del Potro, has advanced by taking out Michael Venus, Steve Johnson, Jiri Vesely, and Robin Haase. The fifth seed needed two hours and 52 minutes to outlast Haase 6-7(7), 7-6(3), 7-6(5) in the semis. Del Potro, on the other hand, has not dropped a set this week, has been broken only once, and did not face a single break point in his first two matches. He will likely have too much firepower once again for Bautista Agut.
Pick: Del Potro in 2
Sydney International: (Q) Daniil Medvedev vs. (SE) Alex de Minaur
One week ago, neither Medvedev nor de Minaur knew they would even be in the Sydney main draw; now they suddenly find themselves in a surprising championship match. Medvedev had to qualify just to earn his place in the field of 28, while de Minaur got a special exemption because he reached the Brisbane semifinals. As that result indicates, it has been an absolutely unbelievable start to 2018 for de Minaur. The 18-year-old Australian picked up Brisbane wins over Steve Johnson, Milos Raonic, and Michael Mmoh; in Sydney he has defeated Fernando Verdasco, Damir Dzumhur (via retirement), Feliciano Lopez, and Benoit Paire.
Medvedev is through to his second career ATP final (lost to Bautista Agut last season in Chennai) following defeats of Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jared Donaldson, Paolo Lorenzi, and Fabio Fognini. Nerves will surely come into play on Saturday, as the 21-year-old Russian is bidding for his first ATP title and de Minaur has never previously contested a final. Based on home-court advantage Down Under and his amazing level of play that has been on display throughout this pre-Australian Open fortnight, a slight edge goes to de Minaur.
Pick: de Minaur in 3