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THE RISE AND RISE OF ALEX DE MINAUR



In more recent years, it’s Sam Stosur, Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ajla Tomljanovic that have got tongues wagging.


But there is a quiet achiever who goes about his business with no fuss or commotion. And yet he’s definitely making waves on the court and giving the top players a run for their money.


And while he is still young and relatively in the earlier stages of his tennis career and cannot be compared to the achievements of the former, he should definitely be considered when speaking of the latter.


While he may not receive as much fanfare and publicity as some of the others, he has proven to be a formidable opponent on the tennis court.


His name is Alex De Minaur.


Avid tennis fans know the Australian ace has been challenging the top echelon of players for quite some time now. His form has been so impressive, he’s in the top 20 in the world.


Most people know he has talent. And tennis enthusiasts are fully aware of his strong work ethic. He’s renowned for being fast and never giving up. Those who are set to play him know they’ll need to be at their best to beat him.


Having made his professional debut in July 2015 at the Spain F22, reaching the quarterfinals, he was awarded a wildcard to the qualifying rounds of the 2016 Australian Open. Unfortunately he was eliminated.


He then spent the majority of the 2016 season playing on the ITF circuit in Spain, reaching two finals.


He made his Grand Slam debut at the 2017 Australian Open and won his first round match against Gerald Melzer in a thrilling five set encounter.


While results have not always gone to plan, it’s been a steady climb up the ranks since then.


He broke through into the top 50 in the rankings for the first time, ranked World No. 45 in August 2018. Then the top 20 a year later, ranked 18th.


He has continued to grind the tour, making strides and defeating some big names on the tennis circuit.


He achieved a career-high ATP singles ranking of No. 15 in June 2021.


And after a solid 2022, De Minaur kicked off 2023 with a bang, taking the scalp of Spaniard superstar and former world number 1, Rafael Nadal at the United Cup.


After an impressive start to the year, and comfortable victories in the first three rounds of the Australian Open, he was matched up against the man who had already won the event nine times.


Despite the mammoth challenge facing him, De Minaur was determined to give his all against Serbian champion Novak Djokovic in their fourth round clash.


With Kyrgios and Tomljanovic having withdrawn, De Minaur was seen as our best hope of having an Aussie claim the championship since Ash Barty last year and the first male to win the event since Mark Edmondson in 1976.


And the media built it up, hoping that our last remaining home singles hope could cause a huge upset.


But unfortunately, on that warm Monday night in January, the Aussie ace was taught a hard lesson on Rod Laver Arena. With a harsh reality check, he came crushing back to earth after a straight sets defeat at the hands of the Serbian superstar. He could only manage to win five games in what many commentators described as a ruthless display by the Djoker.


After missing last year’s Australian Open due to his COVID vaccination stance, there was nothing stopping the Djoker this year as he went on to win his 10th Australian Open.


It was a crushing defeat for the Australian but he vowed to come back bigger and better.


Critics were quick to claim he will never be able to match the Djokovics and Nadals of the world.


But losing to the eventual champion is no mean feat. One can only wonder if he had not been scheduled to play Djokovic in the fourth round, he may have progressed further.


The young Aussie was determined to go back to the drawing board and improve. “I will get back to work and improve you can count on that,” the Sydney-born De Minaur posted on social media the following day.


And he did just that.


Following his fourth round defeat to Djokovic at the Australian Open, he made the Quarter-Finals at Rotterdam and Marseille.


He’s been going from strength to strength, having recently won the ATP 500 title in Acapulco for the first time.


It was his seventh title, the biggest in his career. The title rocketed him back into the top 20 in the world.


The man affectionately known as the Demon is known for being quick on court and not letting opponents get an easy win.


One thing fans love about the 24-year-old is his tenacity to never give up.


Having been in a constant battle with Kyrgios since 2018 over the mantle of Australia’s number one-ranked male player, he has recently surpassed his flamboyant rival.


Kyrgios gets all the attention in Australia but Alex deserves the accolades too.


Earlier this year, De Minaur began using the services of former Australian Davis Cup player Peter Luczak to join his other coach, Adolfo Gutierrez who has coached him since he was nine.


And while it’s still new, the dual coaching arrangement seems to be working well.


“It feels amazing. I know the hard work that’s been put in to getting here. It’s good to see the results. It’s not always that you win a tournament and you get to finish a week unbeaten so I’ll definitely cherish this,” De Minaur said after the Acapulco final.


Digging deep, he saved five break points in the first game of the third set and then held off a tough opponent in American Tommy Paul.


“Everything in my career has been step by step, I just want to keep pushing,” he said.


“I’ve got a whole lot of heart in this little body of mine and I enjoy competing, so very happy with it,” he told tennis reporter, Nick McCarvel.


Luczak who has coached several other Aussies is confident his protégé can reach the top 10.


“I’ve seen some of the practice sets he plays and I know the level he has, so in my eyes, I think he can get top 10,” the 43-year-old said.


The cynics will say the draw favoured De Minaur and he needs a fancy draw to progress well throughout tournaments. But that is not giving credit where credit is due. And one could argue that is disrespectful to him and the ‘Demon’ deserves a lot more respect and credit for what he’s achieved.


Afterall, he doesn’t set the fixture and you can only play who you are matched up against. And he has consistently proven he can compete against other top players, often losing to the eventual champions.


Doubters will also claim De Minaur has never won a Grand Slam semifinal, but neither have other top 10 players such Audrey Rublev, Holger Rune and Taylor Ritz. Nor has Jannik Sinner, currently ranked 11th in the world.


The Aussie spirit is on full display whenever De Minaur takes the court. He has consistently played full of heart and passion. And while he may not be as big as some of his contemporaries, he is always seeking ways to improve.


“He does all the right things with his eating, sleeping, his gym, his running. He’s an incredible person to be part of his team. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned,” his coach Luzcak told The First Serve.


“He keeps chasing balls and that never-die attitude. He’s not the tallest guy but in Acapulco he was serving serves at 215, 220 (km/h) which was quite impressive.”


The top 30 players are full of sublime talent, let alone the top 10. So it definitely won’t be easy.

While his generation is full of tough opponents, there is no ceiling on how much De Minaur can achieve.


Having only just turned 24, he is at the age when many tennis players begin to peak.

With enormous upside, the world is his oyster.


Nadal has dropped out of the top 10 for the first time in 18 years, as retirement beckons.


This could open up one spot for our Aussie ace. And while the other top players in the world are household names full of incredible talent and definitely no easy-beats, if he continues his incredible hard work, De Minaur’s rankings trajectory can climb. It won’t be easy but that’s no reason for the Aussie to not keep striving to crack the top 10.


We’re only in March and despite not getting the results in Indian Wells and Miami he would have liked (going out in the 2nd round in his first match courtesy of having a first round bye) there is a lot of the season to play with three more Grand slams as well as seven Masters 1000 tournaments for the demon to contend to earn points to challenge.


Can 2023 be the year we finally see our Aussie Ace Alex De Minaur crack the top 10?

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