De Minaur, Barty carry Oz hopes
MELBOURNE—Anicebath,amassage and a private jet ridefromSydneytoMelbourneafterwinninghisfirstATPtitlehasrefreshedAlex de Minaur enoughforhimtostateheisreadytoleadthehostnation’shopesforthemen’s title at the AustralianOpen.
The 19-year-old wore downItalianveteranAndreasSeppi7-57-6(5)towintheSydneyInternationallateonSaturday—hissecondmatchinfivehours.
He then had to rush to Melbourneyesterdayonaprivatejet—“asmallone”—inordertofinalise his preparations for hisfirstroundclashwithPortugal’sPedroSousaattheseasonopeningGrandSlamtomorrow.
The teenager had criticisedAustralian Open organisers onSaturdayfortheschedulingafterdefeating Frenchman Gilles Simoninthesemi-finals,butwasinamoreconciliatorymoodyesterday.“I’vedoneeverythingto recover.Hoppedintheicebath,hadamassage.I’mreadytogo...the body is feeling good,” DeMinaur,whoisthe27thseedandhighest-rankedAustralianinthemen’ssingles,toldreporters.
“It’s [the Sydney title] givenmealotofconfidence.Tobeabletodoitatmyhomeinfrontofmyfriendsandfamily,it’salwaysthatmuchmorespecial,”hesaid.
DeMinaurisoneof12Australiansin the men’s singles andseekingtobecomethefirstlocaltowinthetitlesinceMarkEdmondsonin1976.
Aussie women’s player AshleighBarty also had to make ahurrieddashtoMelbourneaftershelosttheSydneyfinaltoPetraKvitova in a third-set tie-breakandisscheduledtoplaythiseveningagainst Thailand’s LuksikaKumkhum on Margaret CourtArena.
Theworldnumber15willalsobear the burden of expectationfromahomecrowdwhoarewaitingto end a similarly-longdrought in the women’s draw.The last local champion wasChrisO’Neilin1978.—Reuters.
Alex de Minaur is one of 12 Australians in the men’s singles of the Australian Open and seeking to become the first local to win the title since Mark Edmondson in 1976.