Melbourne, Australia , 11 February 2021 | Vivienne Christie

Alex de Minaur’s fourth Australian Open campaign is gathering pleasing momentum, the Australian through to the third round without the loss of a set.

After a swift win over Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday, the 21-year-old continued in the same fashion against Pablo Cuevas, recording a 6-3 6-3 7-5 win after one hour and 58 minutes on court.

“(I’m) very happy. It’s not an easy match to play,” said De Minaur of his first-time meeting with 35-year-old Cuevas.

“I felt like I went out there and I stuck to the game plan and was very focused throughout.”

Equalling his previous best showing of a third round appearance at the 2019 tournament, De Minaur’s progress is also helping to erase the difficult memories from last year.

After a stunning start to the 2020 season at the ATP Cup, the fast-rising Australian was forced to withdraw from his home Grand Slam with an abdominal tear.

“Look, it wasn’t easy last year, but I think I have used what I felt, you know, during all those stages last year to kind of fuel the hunger that I’ve got in the belly for this year around,” De Minaur said.

Determined to add more aggression in the 2020 season, De Minaur highlighted his intentions as he tested Cuevas with two break points in a six-minute opening game.

While he couldn’t convert on that occasion, De Minaur secured the 37-minute first set with breaks in the fifth floor and ninth games.

The second set unfolded in similar fashion, De Minaur managing his own service games easily and gaining another break over Cuevas in the sixth game. From there, he comfortably claimed a two-set lead.

While the 35-year-old Cuevas would rue a costly 38 unforced errors, he’d also know that number partly resulted from De Minaur’s unrelenting pressure.

Utilising his trademark speed superbly, De Minaur thrilled the Margaret Court Arena crowd with some dazzling winners – he recorded 28 in total, also claiming 25 of 29 entertaining points at the net.

The only opening that Cuevas managed was quickly obliterated, de Minaur clawing a service break back as the Uruguayan served for the third set. The Australian ran away with the last four games to close out the match.

“I’m very happy I managed to bounce back straightaway and not let it affect me and play some of my best tennis to turn it around and finish off in three sets,” he said.

The unruffled 21-year-old next faces Fabio Fognini of Italy, who took almost four hours to claim a five-set win over countryman Salvatore Caruso today.

“It’s a quality opponent. I mean, Fabio has been up there for a very long time. He’s back to playing his best tennis. He showed it at ATP Cup,” De Minaur noted of the 33-year-old.

“Look, it’s going to be a very tough one, but I’m happy to be in the third round.

“I’m happy to be back competing in the Australian Open in front of my home crowd, and I’m just going to enjoy every second of it.”


Aussies in action – day four results

Men’s singles, second round
[21] Alex de Minaur (AUS) d Pablo Cuevas[URU] 6-3 6-3 7-5
[5] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) d [WC] Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-1 6-7(5) 6-4
Lloyd Harris (RSA) d [WC] Alexei Popyrin (AUS) 6-2 1-6 6-3 6-7(5) 6-3
Radu Albot (MDA) d [WC] Christopher O’Connell (AUS) 6-2 7-5 7-6(8)

Women’s singles, second round
[1] Ash Barty (AUS) d [WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-1 7-6(7)
Jessica Pegula (USA) d Sam Stosur (AUS) day 6-0 6-1

Men’s doubles, first round
[WC] James Duckworth (AUS)/Marc Polmans (AUS) d Nikola Cacic (SRB)/Frederik Nielsen (DEN) 6-4 6-4
John Millman (AUS)/Thiago Monteiro (BRA) d Federico Coria (ARG)/Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 7-6(5) 6-1

Women’s doubles, first round
Arina Rodionova (AUS)/Storm Sanders (AUS) d [WC] Simona Halep (ROU)/Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz (AUS) 6-4 7-5
[WC] Lizette Cabrera (AUS)/Maddison Inglis (AUS) d Renata Voracova (CZE)/Wang Yafan (CHN) 7-6(3) 4-6 7-6[10]
[WC] Olivia Gadecki (AUS)/Belinda Woolcock (AUS) d Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)/Ankita Raina (IND) 6-3 6-0
[1] Su-wei Hsieh (TPE)/Barbora Strycova (CZE) d [WC] Destanee Aiava (AUS)/Astra Sharma (AUS) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[16] Laura Siegemund (GER)/Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d [WC] Kimberly Birrell (AUS)/Jaimee Fourlis (AUS) 6-2 6-1
Ons Jabeur (TUN)/Christina McHale (USA) d [WC] Daria Gavrilova (AUS)/Ellen Perez (AUS) 7-6(4) 6-4
Arantxa Rus (NED)/Tamara Zidansek (SLO) d Ajla Tomljanovic (AUS)/Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-7(5) 7-5

Australian Open 2021 tickets are now on sale via Ticketmaster.