Malaga, Spain, 22 November 2022 | Vivienne Christie

Few players display their passion for Davis Cup quite like Alex de Minaur.

After debuting in the world team competition as Australia’s 109th player early in 2018, the then-teenager had his Davis Cup number tattooed on his chest.

In the five years since, De Minaur has proudly demonstrated his passion for Davis Cup in other ways.

A veteran of 11 ties for Australia, De Minaur is a winner of eight of the last nine Davis Cup singles matches he’s contested.

Boasting a 9-4 Davis Cup singles record overall, the Sydney-born Australian last lost a singles match against Croatia’s Marin Cilic, a former Grand Slam champion, in the 2021 Finals.

The record is particularly impressive this year.

Flawless against Zsombor Piros and Marton Fucsovics during Australia’s victory over Hungary in the Qualifiers in Sydney earlier this season, De Minaur later claimed wins over Belgian David Goffin and Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi in the round-robin stage.

Those performances not only helped Australia’s progress to this week’s knockout stage of the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga, Spain but also underlined De Minaur’s status as an official leader of the Australian team.

“It’s always been a great passion of mine to be able to represent Australia in Davis Cup,” said De Minaur, as the Australian team prepared to meet the Netherlands in tonight’s knock-out quarterfinal.

“I feel very privileged to be in the position that I am. I love these weeks. I want to do everything I can to help my team and help my country. It’s great to be a part of it.”

Australian team captain Lleyton Hewitt is delighted to see how that spirit has developed over many years.

“I rely heavily on Alex. But then again, Rochey (coach Tony Roche) and I have spent a lot of time over the years with Alex since he was an orange boy and really getting him ready for these situations where he’s got to go out there and lead the team and he does that so well,” Hewitt said.

“Not only on the court but also off the court as well, which is really important being in a team environment. We’re extremely proud of Alex and I have no doubt, he’s going to play well for us here.”

De Minaur will take confidence from an impressive end to his individual season as he targets further success in Davis Cup.

Adding to his trophy count with a second Atlanta title, De Minaur also achieved career-best results in reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

In his final individual tournament at the Paris Masters, the Australian stunned world No.3 Daniil Medvedev in the biggest win of his career.

“I’m very happy with how I’ve been able to manage it throughout the whole year,” said De Minaur of the long and gruelling season, in which he amassed a 45-25 match-winning record overall.

“I felt like I’ve stayed strong, mentally and physically, and I’ve given myself a chance to win a lot of matches – so that’s, I guess, the ultimate goal.”

But the biggest goal remains for the dedicated Davis Cup performer, who is determined to make “one last strong push so we can tick 2022.”

De Minaur admits that facing the Netherlands, who defeated Kazakhstan, Great Britain and the USA to finish first in their round-robin group in September, poses a significant challenge first-up.

“They’ve been playing some great tennis. You can see with their results in Glasgow in Davis Cup,” said De Minaur of Australia’s first Davis Cup tie against the Netherlands, whose team includes world No.35 Botic van de Zancschulp and the 96th-ranked Tallon Griekspoor.

“So we know we’ve got to be ready for a battle … Hopefully we can get ourselves going in the singles and give ourselves a good chance for the doubles.”

De Minaur will face that challenge with memories of his first Davis Cup experience, as an orange boy when Australia faced Great Britain in the 2015 semifinals, still strong.

“As a junior to be able to experience that and see the boys around, it was very cool,” he recalled. “I knew that was exactly what I wanted to get to one day.”

A visit in recent days to the Lew Hoad Academy in Malaga added to that sentiment, as De Minaur reflected on the achievements of the late Australian legend, who was a member of four winning Davis Cup teams.

“Ultimately Davis Cup, especially for Australia, has got such a rich culture and history. We’re instilled from a young age with what it means to represent your country, what it means to earn a spot in the squad, what it means to earn a number,” said De Minaur.

“Just to be able to go to Lew Hoad’s Academy – he was one of the greats for Australian tennis, a Davis Cup player. Just to be able to see his legacy … It was just a great experience to have with the whole team.”

It adds undeniable inspiration as De Minaur and the team he describes as a “joy to be around”. The Australian No.1 makes no secret of the collective goal to claim a 29th Davis Cup title for Australia.

“Well that’s the ultimate dream. Honestly, that’s what we’re all here for,” he emphasised. “That’s where all the sacrifice comes and there’s nothing we want more than that.

“You can bet that every single one of us is going to do everything they can to give ourselves the chance to take that title.”

The Nine Network will broadcast Australia’s quarterfinal showdown against the Netherlands from 2am AEDT (Wednesday 23 November).

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