Alex de Minaur: Leading by example at Wimbledon 2023
Alex de Minaur, the nation’s No.1 player, is proud to lead the charge as eight Australian men prepare to contest the main draw at Wimbledon.
Asked to describe the strengths of the eight-strong contingent of Australian men in the main draw at Wimbledon, a smiling Alex de Minaur settled in for a chat.
He acknowledged Max Purcell, Chris O’Connell and Alexandar Vukic for the grit they’d displayed in constructing “career-best seasons”.
Purcell, now Australia’s No.3 male player at world No.62, rated a special mention for “going it about it the tough way, playing a million matches” on the ATP Challenger Tour to achieve that result.
Jordan Thompson’s recent appearance in a second final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch, said De Minaur, showed the Sydneysider is a “very dangerous grass-court player and (hard) competitor.”
There was also acknowledgment of Jason Kubler’s fourth-round breakthrough at last year’s Championships, De Minaur noting how he “showed last year what he can do on grass.”
Alexei Popyrin, he noted, has “got a big game” that can trouble anyone, while several prominent names who aren’t in main-draw action this fortnight – including Thanasi Kokkinakias, James Duckworth and Rinky Hijikata – highlight further positives for Australian men’s tennis.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’re all close together,” said the Sydney-born 24-year-old.
“Every week we’re trying to hit with each other and trying to get better together. It’s great to be a part of this group.”
Aussie spirit 🤝🇦🇺
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De Minaur’s obvious delight in his countrymen’s progress highlighted his supportive leadership style as Australia’s No.1.
“I don’t want to call myself a leader at any point in time. I kind of like to go about my business quite quietly and almost if anything, lead by example,” he said.
“I think it’s amazing the level that all the Aussies are showing … I think we’re really showing how strong of a nation we are.”
That’s especially true for De Minaur, who begins a fifth main-draw campaign at Wimbledon with momentum from a runner-up performance at the recent Queen’s Club tournament.
“Obviously the result was great, but I also enjoyed the mindset that I was in. I felt like I played some very positive tennis throughout the whole week. I backed myself at all stages,” said De Minaur, who meets Belgium’s Kimmer Coppeljans in Wimbledon’s first round.
“It just showed that when I can have that mindset it’s when I bring out my best tennis.”
While De Minaur is an experienced grass-courter with an increasingly impressive record on the surface, Vukic is a comparative novice.
By qualifying for Eastbourne, he won his first matches on grass in two years. And a win over Brandon Nakashima in the first round of the main draw there was his first ever tour-level, main-draw win on grass.
But those victories have come at the perfect time for the Sydneysider, who carries this momentum into Wimbledon – his first-ever visit to the All England Club.
“It’s pretty surreal. I also have my family and a few my mates here, so it’s going to be a fun week,” said Vukic, who has gained direct entry into a Grand Slam main draw for the first time.
“I think a lot of a lot of my game does suit grass. I think the serve and the backhand especially. I think my forehand is a pretty ‘spinny’ but it can kind of adjust to the grass. But my backhand is extremely flat, so it actually helps.
“I actually don’t mind any surface. I don’t know what my favourite surface is to be honest. If you put me in clay, I like it. If you put me on grass, I like it.
“So I guess it’s good, but I should pick really.”
The world No.91 begins his Wimbledon campaign on Monday against Daniel Altmaier, a player who has won just seven of his 19 career matches on grass, but who won their only previous meeting at last year’s ATP Challenger in Phoenix.
Purcell, meanwhile, is aiming to add a major singles breakthrough to the Wimbledon men’s doubles title he claimed with Matt Ebden last year.
“Obviously it was huge winning the doubles last year but I really wantd to push and do something special in singles, whatever round that may be,” said Purcell.
The 25-year-old has a daunting opening assignment against No.7 seed Andrey Rublev on day one at Wimbledon, but warned he’s “not here to make up the numbers”.
And with Australian players typically comfortable on the All England Club surface, Purcell also recognises the potential for an upset.
“I mean it’s a surface that evens everyone out,” he commented. “So there’s no reason why any of us Australians can’t take out big players.”