Sousa no match for the De­mon

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - JAY CLARK

ALEX de Min­aur con­tin­ued his hot form yes­ter­day to power through to the sec­ond round of the Aus­tralian Open.

The 19-year-old swept aside Por­tu­gal’s Pe­dro Sousa in three sets, two days after win­ning his maiden ATP ti­tle in Syd­ney.

De Min­aur was ini­tially up­set that or­gan­is­ers sched­uled him to play on Day 1, rather than give him an ex­tra day’s rest.

But the work­horse looked fresh as he tri­umphed 6-4 7-5 6-4.

The Syd­neysider ap­peared to han­dle the swel­ter­ing 34C heat much bet­ter than Sousa, dis­patch­ing him in less than two hours.

Aus­tralia’s top-ranked men’s player and No.27 seed is on a crash course to play No.2 seed Rafael Nadal in the third round on Fri­day, if he can win again to­mor­row.

De Min­aur said he was thrilled to con­tinue his mo­men­tum. “I’m very happy with my per­for­mance,” he said.

“I thought I had to be really tough to­day, and to back it up from Syd­ney I was really proud to get it done in three sets.”

De Min­aur spent more than three hours on court across two matches on Sat­ur­day. He caught a pri­vate jet to Mel­bourne, ar­riv­ing at 3am on Sun­day, to max­imise his re­cov­ery time.

The ris­ing star show­cased his run­ning power in the first set as he made a des­per­ate ef­fort to chase down a pre­cise drop shot, then fol­low up with a back­hand smash win­ner.

After the match de Min­aur paid trib­ute to fit­ness coach Tom Couch, the son of late Brown­low medal­list Paul Couch, for help­ing him pre­pare for the tour­na­ment.

“I’m very proud of the work we put in in the off-sea­son,” de Min­aur said.

“Couchy took me through a very tough pre-sea­son to get me ready for this, es­pe­cially the Aus­tralian sum­mer.

“To be able to back up day after day, we did a lot of run­ning; bike; box­ing, which I’m not very good at; swim­ming, which I need my float­ies for. But I’m glad it’s pay­ing off.”

De Min­aur de­liv­ered a blind­ing back­hand win­ner up the line at a cru­cial stage late in the sec­ond set.

The bul­let put him 30-0 up at 5-5, and helped clinch the sec­ond set, as Sousa’s game soon be­gan to fray with a se­ries of loose shots.

Sousa, ranked 103, never se­ri­ously threat­ened to win.

Aussie sen­sa­tion Alex de Min­aur showed he can han­dle the scorch­ing heat at the Aus­tralian Open yes­ter­day, dis­patch­ing Por­tu­gal’s Pe­dro Sousa in straight sets to ad­vance to the sec­ond round.

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