Alex de Minaur: “I’m ready to go”
Buoyed by his steady improvements throughout a career-best 2022 season, Alex de Minaur brings both quiet confidence and burning ambition into his AO 2023 campaign.
There’ll be few theatrics when De Minaur launches his sixth Australian Open main draw campaign against Chinese Taipei qualifier Hsu Yu Hsiou on Tuesday.
Rather, a quiet passion burns for the 23-year-old Australian as he targets sturdy gains in both the shorter and longer term.
“I’m out there and I’m just trying to work on myself, try to keep improving. I’ve got my goals,” said De Minaur as he addressed media at Melbourne Park on Saturday.
“Ultimately what I want to achieve in life is to get the most out of myself, the most I possibly can. That way I can finish my career and be satisfied with the effort and the work I’ve put in.”
Few people could dispute the value of De Minaur’s outlook. Already a veteran of 21 main draw singles campaigns at majors, the Australian returns to Melbourne Park on the back of a career-best 2022 season, which included fourth-round appearances at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
There was also a sixth ATP singles title (in Atlanta) and a starring role in leading Australia to a runner-up finish in the Davis Cup Finals. And while describing himself as a “very chilled guy”, there’s no question that the Sydney-born player fervidly covets success at his home Grand Slam.
“I enjoy playing here in Oz,” said a smiling De Minaur, seeded No.22 in the men’s draw. “The crowds are always amazing.”
So too are the signs for the increasingly confident Australian, who launched his 2023 season with an upset of defending Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal at the United Cup in Sydney. It marked his first win over the prolific Spaniard in the four matches they’ve played.
Recent form improvements, De Minaur noted, are partly in mindset, with self-belief increasingly enhancing the Australian’s renowned speed and agility.
“I think for a while now I’ve had the level that I know I can take it to these top guys,” said De Minaur, who also claimed a confidence-boosting win over world No.2 Daniil Medvedev late last season.
“Just recently I’ve had those wins to kind of back that and give me that confidence to know that I can do that often. I’m happy with where my level’s at, where I’m at. Hopefully I get more chances to play against these top guys and take it to them.”
It’s with that assured outlook that De Minaur sits comfortably with his position as the No.2 Australian player, the current world No.24 sitting just three spots below compatriot Nick Kyrgios in the rankings.
“Ultimately, I’m just happy if Australian tennis is doing well,” he noted, pointing to the nation’s finals finish in both the Davis and Billie Jean King Cups.
“If you look at the bigger picture, the more Aussies we can have in the top 100, playing the Slams and really pushing each other just to get as close as we can [to where] we once were as a nation. I mean, this nation has such a rich culture and history in tennis.
“I think we’re just going in the right direction. It’s good to see we’re all competitive. Whenever an Aussie does well it’s great for the whole country.”
De Minaur embraces the opportunity to add to that history in Melbourne, where he aims to improve on last year’s fourth-round exit to then world-No.11 Jannik Sinner.
With former pro player Peter Luczak recently appointed as a part-time advisor alongside long-time coach Adolfo Gutierrez, the Australian is fully prepared to bring the necessary intensity from his first AO 2023 match with Hsu.
“He’s obviously playing some good tennis. He’s qualified, making his debut. He’ll probably have not much to lose. It’s going to be a tough, tough match,” said De Minaur of the world No.208, who is contesting a Grand Slam main draw for the first time.
“What I’ve got to do is focus on my side of the court and try to bring as much energy and intensity as I can, and really try to take it to him early stages.
“I’ve been playing some great tennis. The level’s there. I feel fresh physically and mentally. Hopefully come Tuesday, first point, I’m ready to go, fired up, trying to get the crowd involved.”