Ahead of his match with Rafael Nadal at his home Slam, it would be interesting to look at the career of Alex de Minaur and why he could be the next star of Australian tennis.
At just 19, he is the World No. 29 and many are predicting a big future in the game, potentially a future Grand Slam champion.
Career to date
He was born in Sydney and sees himself as Australian despite living most of his life in Spain.
A promising junior, de Minaur reached a junior ranking high of No. 2 and won the 2016 Australian Open Juniors Doubles title.
The youngster turned pro in 2015, making his Grand Slam debut in 2017 in the Australian Open, where he defeated Gerald Melzer before losing to Sam Querrey in the second round. He also competed in the French Open (losing in the first round to Robin Haase) and US Open (losing in the first round to Dominic Thiem) main draws.
The following year was the teenager’s breakthrough, rising in the rankings from No. 208 to No. 31. He began by reaching the semifinals in Brisbane (where he beat World No. 4 Milos Raonic) and the final in Sydney. This meant he was the youngest player since rafael Nadal in 2005 to reach consecutive ATP Tour semifinals.
He received a wild card into the Australian Open main draw in 2018, winning a set against World No. 16 Tomas Berdych before losing in four.
Later in the year, he had his best result at a Slam, reaching the third round at Wimbledon (losing to Nadal) and the US Open (losing to Marin Cilic). He ended an impressive year as Australia’s highest ranked male player.
He claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Sydney this year, beating Andreas Seppi in the final, and carried this form into Melbourne. His path to this meeting with Nadal includes victories over Pedro Sousa and Henri Laaksonen.
Style of play
Despite his diminutive stature, at only 5’11”, de Minaur isn’t a counter puncher as you would expect but has a more aggressive style.
He possesses a strong serve and flat forehand with a great ability to move his opponents around the court.
A potential weakness is his backhand, despite him hitting down the line strokes to good effect. His cross-court backhand will be targeted as it lacks the power and angle to consistently hit this shot.
However, de Minaur is outstanding for his age at deciding when to hit his backhand down the line and aims to stay aggressive consistently on his forehand wing.
He has one of the best mentors and coaches for someone so young with Aussie legend and two-time Grand Slam champion Lleyton Hewitt. He has previously outlined the effect Hewitt has had: “he has helped me believe in myself and at the same time reminding me how to be tough… how to stay in the moment, weather the storm at times.”
Despite his age, de Minaur is already making impressions on the biggest names in the sport. Mats Wilander, the Swedish seven-time Grand Slam champion claimed: “There isn’t a quicker player than de Minaur on the Tour. Great attitude, flat backhand, a little bit like Jimmy Connors.”
It is worth keeping an eye on this young man’s career to see if he reaches his potential and wins Grand Slams.
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