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DE MINAUR PASSES MANNARINO TEST, MOVES INTO THIRD ROUND



Australia’s last seeded hope Alex de Minaur has progressed to the third round of the Australian Open for the fourth time in his career following a gritty 7-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over French veteran Adrian Mannarino.


The Australian was forced to dig deep throughout the contest, emerging from a break down in the third set to reel off four of the last five games of the stanza before running away from the fourth.


With his idol Lleyton Hewitt watching on, he put on a show that the former World No.1 would be proud of as the match ticked just under three and a half hours.


“I reckon this one was one of those matches where it's going to stay with me for a while because I dug very deep into kind of a place I wasn't really sure was there,” he said


“It's always great when you can dig deep and find something that you didn't think was there.


“It wasn't looking great out there. He was playing some great tennis. I knew it was going to be a battle, but I wasn't really sure how I was going to turn that around.


“I found something within me to kind of tell me to keep on going and add an extra level of intensity, and then managed to change the whole match around.


“If I lose that third set, then all of a sudden he's got the momentum, he's got the energy, and it's an uphill battle.”


It was de Minaur’s first win over a top 50 opponent in Melbourne as he clattered 36 winners past the 34-year-old in a truly gutsy display.


The 22nd seed has now beaten his French counterpart three times from four meetings, which is no easy feat considering the tricky challenges that Mannarino can pose.


Challenges so fierce that de Minaur was not comfortable until he had secured a handy lead in the fourth.


“To be honest, I probably only started feeling comfortable 2-1 in the fourth,” he said.


“Then I started to see that he was struggling a bit physically. That just gave me wings.


“From then on, I felt like I was able to expose him a lot more but up until then it was just an absolute battle out there, we were both going at it, both running miles and miles as well as having very tricky rallies.


“He's a very tricky opponent. Especially in these types of conditions where the ball stays very low, in his strike zone. He's very fit.”


de Minaur will face another Frenchman in the third round in Benjamin Bonzi, as he overcame 14th seed and Olympic bronze medallist Pablo Carreno Busta with a thrilling 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 victory.


The Australian has faced him twice on tour, both in recent months, notching up wins in both encounters.


“If I hadn't played him twice recently, then probably. But, yeah, he's a tough opponent.


“We had a battle in Davis Cup. I played a very good match in Stockholm. I know what to expect. I'm going to have to be physically ready to bring it all out there again,” de Minaur added.


“There's going to be some gruelling rallies. He's a very solid opponent and a competitor. I'm looking forward to it. It should be a great battle.”


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