Alex De Minaur has had his brilliant grass-court season brought to a disappointing end at Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon, with the Australian star crashing out in the first round of The Championships.
The 22-year-old rose to a career-high ranking of No. 15 on Monday after winning his fifth ATP title in Eastbourne on Saturday, following a semi-final appearance at Queen’s and a quarter-final spot in Stuttgart earlier this month, and looked poised for a deep run at the All England Club.
But that strong form evaporated during another wet day in SW19, with young American Sebastian Korda coming out all guns blazing on Court 17 before surviving a comeback from De Minaur to clinch a dramatic fourth set tiebreak in the rain.
With play suspended on all but two other outside courts, fans sat in raincoats and held umbrellas above their heads while this match was allowed to continue, much to the bemusement of many in the crowd and pundits watching from afar.
The net was immediately taken down and the covers were quickly dragged across the court the moment Korda converted his third match point to win 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), closing the curtains on three and a half hours of play.
The 20-year-old from Florida, who is the son of 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda, has only played in the main draw of two other Grand Slams – he reached the fourth round of the French Open on debut last year – and has never been ranked inside the top-50 on the ATP Tour.
But that will now change following a gutsy performance that highlights why so many people inside US Tennis are salivating over Korda’s potential.
“It’s a bittersweet ending to my grass-court season,” De Minaur told reporters via Zoom after exiting Wimbledon on Tuesday afternoon.
“I knew going in it was going to be a very complicated match and that it was. Obviously I had a couple of chances in the fourth to take it to a fifth and maybe swing the momentum completely my way.
"It was just a bit of everything; missed opportunities; not doing enough on break points; he played really well; he deserved to win today.
“I’ve had a hell of a grass season, but it’s a bittersweet ending. I’m sure with some time I’ll be able to look back on it and be happy with my efforts (across the grass-court season), but this was the week I wanted to go deep in. it’s a shame. It is pretty devastating.”
De Minaur will now turn his attention to playing doubles with compatriot Matt Reid on Wednesday – weather permitting during this miserable stretch of London rain – before returning to his home in Spain to freshen up ahead of the Olympic Games next month.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience, especially alongside all the other teammates and Australian athletes. It’s going to be very fun,” he said.
“I’ll switch off now for a bit before I get ready for Tokyo. My focus goes on to that now. I’m looking forward to getting there and trying to go deep. That’s the plan. It’s an easy transition from the grass to the hardcourts so I’m looking forward to that.”
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