De Minaur’s career-best Australian Open ends in fourth round
Alex de Minaur’s Australian Open ends with a loss to top-10 Italian Jannik Sinner, but there are many gains to take from his career-best Melbourne Park campaign.
Alex de Minaur’s Australian Open is over for another season, but the Australian’s bold resolution for “positive vibes only” in the 2022 season can reasonably stay intact.
A fourth-round appearance was a career-best performance for the 22-year-old De Minaur, who pushed top-10 ranked Jannik Sinner before the Italian claimed a 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4 win.
De Minaur was the early aggressor of the Rod Laver Arena showdown, which started late on a steamy Melbourne afternoon after two women’s singles matches extended to three sets.
There seemed every possibility that De Minaur and Sinner would contest another marathon when a tense opener extended more than an hour.
The Australian created precious early opportunities as he held a break point in Sinner’s first service game and another three break points two games later.
But highlighting why the 20-year-old is the youngest man inside the world’s top 30, Sinner maintained composure at the most important junctures.
With those break points saved, he relaxed into easier service games. And while De Minaur’s relentless energy couldn’t be faulted, overhitting at times resulted in costly misses.
After the set progressed to a tiebreak, Sinner soon held a 6-3 lead and after a long rally forced a De Minaur error, he sealed the set on his second set point.
From there the winners started flowing for the Italian, who’d held an equal 10 with De Minaur until the ninth game of the match.
But those stats would soon tip in the favour of Sinner; he easily consolidated the first break of serve in the second game of the second set and while De Minaur produced some crowd-pleasing points, it wasn’t enough to wrestle control.
Sinner extended his lead to two sets and when the Australian surrendered a break of serve in the opening game of the third, he was unable to stem the flow.
Another break went Sinner’s way and while De Minaur claimed one back, the steely Italian secured his place in a second Grand Slam quarterfinal after two hours and 35 minutes.
Helped by nine aces and not a single double fault, Sinner’s 35 winners outnumbered his 30 unforced errors. There were also 24 winners for De Minaur, but his 37 errors were clearly damaging.
“I had chances. Didn’t take those opportunities, those breakpoints early. You know, I came up with an opponent that played very well and just played some very good tennis in the important moments,” he commented.
Still, the necessary adjustments seem manageable for the Australian and the overall assessment of his home summer is positive.
“Overall I think it’s been a good Aussie summer for me. I’ve played some good matches, had some good results. Obviously a little bit of a bittersweet ending. Didn’t really want my Australian Open campaign to be done tonight, but it’s just how it went today,” said De Minaur, who had wins over higher-ranked Ugo Humbert and Matteo Berrettini at the ATP Cup in Sydney.
Most pleasing for the 22-year-old is a return to form after his mid-2021 COVID diagnosis. Below his best on his return to the tour, De Minaur subsequently slipped outside the top-40.
While not naming a specific number he’s targeting, the Australian is clearly determined to return to at least his previous best No.15 ranking – and after a career-best home summer, he’ll take heart in knowing that’s possible.
“It’s been a good start to the season, bringing in some good momentum,” said De Minaur, who next plans to compete in Rotterdam.
“Came up short today, but happy with where my level is going. It’s definitely a big improvement from last year. And, you know, I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Men’s singles, fourth round
 Jannik Sinner (ITA) d  Alex de Minaur (AUS) 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4
Women’s singles, quarterfinal
 Ash Barty (AUS) v  Jessica Pegula (USA)