Melbourne, Australia, 20 October 2023 | Rhys de Deugd

Alex de Minaur has shown a competitive mentality throughout his consistent career, but thanks to an improved ability to get the job done when it counts, this season has been his best to date.

The Australian is ranked fourth on the ATP Tour in the past 52 weeks in deciding set win percentage, correlating with increased success.

The Australian hit a career-high ranking of world No.11 this month, and this week has progressed to the Japan Open quarterfinals in Tokyo – his 10th quarterfinal of the season.

His mentor, Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, was the last Aussie man to reach this many quarterfinals in one season, back in 2004.

Hewitt, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has always seen the potential in De Minaur, telling The AO Show podcast how he believes the 24-year-old’s best is yet to come.

“He’s on the verge of cracking the top 10, he will get there at some stage, and hopefully it’s not in the too distant future,” Hewitt said.

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A title in Tokyo would put him in top-10 contention – and within reach of an ATP Finals spot in Turin – and Hewitt says De Minaur’s Davis Cup form proves he can match it with world’s best.

“I always can go out there and rely on Alex that he’s going to go out there and play with that fire and passion that I expect,” Hewitt said.

This mental toughness has played a big role in De Minaur’s drastic improvement in matches with deciding sets, as explained by data analyst and high-performance coach Simon Rea.

“Back in 2022, he’s winning about half the time (in deciding sets), 52 per cent of the time, this year, 72 per cent of the time,” Rea told The AO Show.

“It is the mentality and physicality, and sometimes those two things can work hand-in-glove, it has clearly been a point of difference for ‘Demon’ in his 2023 campaign.”

De Minaur has played 36 matches so far this year, and one of his toughest battles came in a three-hour epic in the second round at Tokyo against Great Brittain’s Jack Draper.

With his back against the wall multiple times throughout the match, he proved it was a survival of the fittest, prevailing 4-6 7-6(4) 7-6(1).

He took to Instagram after the match with a three-word caption that encapsulates his ‘never say die’ mentality.

“Love the battle.”