De Min­aur, Barty carry Oz hopes

The Witness - - CLASSIFIEDS -

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.

PHOTO: AP

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.

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