Sousa no match for the Demon
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.