Toronto, Canada, 15 August 2023 | Matt Trollope

Alex de Minaur has declared he is feeling confident while at the same time embracing the challenge of continually working to improve his game.

The 24-year-old-Aussie has produced consistently impressive results in 2023, especially in the build-up to the US Open, where he is now 10-3 on North American hard courts this summer.

De Minaur’s latest performance was a career breakthrough; he advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto, beating consecutive top-10 players – Taylor Fritz and Daniil Medvedev – along the way.

> RELATED: De Minaur upsets Medvedev to reach Toronto semis

The result pushed him up to a career-best ranking of world No.12, making him the highest-ranked Australian man in singles in 17 years.

“I think overall, looking at the results, I’m pretty happy with where my level is at and how I’m continuously chipping away towards my goals,” said De Minaur following his 6-4 6-1 loss to Jannik Sinner in Sunday’s Toronto final.

“Step by step, I feel like I’m getting better. I’m showing my level against top opponents, day in and day out. And this week was a great week for me. I’m feeling confident.

“I’m ranked 12, and I’ve still got plenty and plenty of areas to improve on. So it’s exciting for me.”

Mindset has been key for De Minaur in facilitating these breakthroughs, and ensuring he can maintain that “day in day out” level.

A finalist the week prior to Toronto in Los Cabos, he did not let a straight-sets loss in that decider to Stefanos Tsitsipas derail him. Instead, he set about improving on his record of reaching the last 16 at 10 ATP Masters 1000 tournaments without going further.

There was also motivation to “prove a lot of the people wrong”, as he put it after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets in the Toronto semifinals.

“I take a lot of pride in what I do,” De Minaur said. “And a lot of people don’t have a lot of belief in me, but I get a real sense of satisfaction proving people wrong.”

Asked to elaborate on that thought after the final, he was candid.

“I think, ultimately, the tennis world maybe isn’t as excited what I’ve got to bring to the court is probably the way I would describe it,” De Minaur said.

“A lot of people don’t realise how hard it is to get to the position I am and the amount of work that’s kind of gone into it.

“I don’t have a massive serve which I get free points (from), or (am) able to hit winners from any side of the court. I’m the type of guy that’s got to work for every point. I’ve got to find solutions. I’ve got to look at my opponent and try to find his weakness and exploit it; right?

“So a lot of people might not appreciate what it takes to be where I am right now. But the beauty of that is that I know I’m going to push every single ounce that I’ve got in my body, in myself, to get to the best level that I can.

“And I’ll be very happy once I’m retired and I’m sitting on my couch, and I’ll be able to look at my career and say: ‘You know what? I achieved great things just by pure hard work and determination’.”

The next frontier

We assume – and hope – that retirement is not in De Minaur’s plans any time soon, given his age and the momentum he is building.

He identified the serve as an area of focus, revealing he was inspired by Sinner’s dedication to working on his own serve, and the rewards that have followed for the Italian.

“It’s been no secret that that’s an area of my game that I’ve been constantly trying to improve. I know that probably up there with one of the things that is going to take me to the next level is to be able to get more free points on serve,” he said.

“(Sinner) got a lot of serves hitting the spots at a very high speed and got him a couple of free points when he really needed it, which was kind of key.

> RELATED: Sinner overpowers De Minaur in Toronto Masters final

“But, yeah, getting stronger, getting a bit more physical. Not having to run from side to side every goddamn point would be nice as well. So it’s a couple things in the works, for sure.”

Back-to-back finals have positioned De Minaur perfectly for a strong run at Flushing Meadows, which remains the site of his best Grand Slam performance.

That came with a quarterfinal run at the 2020 US Open, and the Aussie No.1 will hope to match – and surpass – that achievement when the year’s final major begins in two weeks.

But first, he will attempt to continue his rich vein of form at the Cincinnati Masters, where he takes on American J.J. Wolf in the first round.

“Just keep on going. Mindset doesn’t change,” he said.

“To be honest, I’m probably not even going to have the chance to switch off at all. It’s just going to have to stay locked in.”