RIS­ING STAR IN WIN­NING FORM

Young gun opens Aus­tralian Open cam­paign in style

NT News - - SPORT - EL­IZA SEWELL and JAY CLARK

AUS­TRALIA’S new­est ten­nis dar­ling Alex de Min­aur con­tin­ued his hot form yes­ter­day as he pow­ered through to the sec­ond round of the Open.

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

De Min­aur was ini­tially up­set or­gan­is­ers sched­uled him to play on Day 1, rather than ben­e­fit from an ex­tra day’s rest, but the work­horse base­liner looked fresh as he tri­umphed 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. In par­tic­u­lar, the Syd­ney-sider ap­peared to han­dle the swel­ter­ing 34 de­gree heat much bet­ter than Sousa, dis­patch­ing him in less than two hours de­spite the quick turn­around.

The win means the coun­try’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, who joked about his fledg­ling driv­ing skills post-match af­ter only reMin­aur cently se­cur­ing his li­cence, said he was thrilled to con­tinue his mo­men­tum.

“I’m very happy with my per­for­mance,” de Min­aur 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 and caught a pri­vate jet ar­riv­ing into Mel­bourne at 3am on Sun­day to max­imise his re­cov­ery time.

The ris­ing star show­cased his sig­na­ture run­ning power in the first set as he made a des­per­ate ef­fort to chase down a pre­cise drop shot, then fol­lowup with a back­hand smash win­ner. Af­ter the match de paid trib­ute to fit­ness coach Tom Couch, the son of late Brown­low Medal­ist Paul Couch, for help­ing him pre­pare for the tour­na­ment.

“I’m very proud of the work we put in in the off-sea­son,” he said. “Couchy took me through a very tough pre­sea­son 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.”

Renowned for his abil­ity to stay in points and force er­rors from his op­po­nents, de Min­aur de­liv­ered a blind­ing back­hand win­ner up the line at a cru­cial stage in late in the sec­ond set.

The bul­let put him 30-0 up at 5-5, and helped the tena­cious teen clinch the sec­ond set as Sousa’s game soon be­gan to fray with a se­ries of loose shots. Ranked 103, Sousa never se­ri­ously threat­ened to win the match, in his first grand slam ap­pear­ance. In con­trast, de Min­aur was tight on serve, drop­ping only one ser­vice game for the match.

“I thought I had to be re­ally tough to­day”

ALEX DE MIN­AUR

Aus­tralia’s Alex de Min­aur blud­geons a back­hand re­turn in the di­rec­tion of op­po­nent Pe­dro Sousa,in­set, dur­ing his three-set open­ing-round win at the Aus­tralian Open

Pic­ture: MICHAEL KLEIN

Young Aus­tralian Alex de Min­aur made the per­fect start to his Aus­tralian open cam­paign yes­ter­day, rolling to a three-set win against Portugal’s Pe­dro Sousa

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.