Sprightly Alex de Minaur races into Australian Open third round

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA</span>
Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPA
  • Australian beats Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 6-4, 6-4, 6-2

  • De Minaur make the round of 16 for the first time in his career

Melbourne Park in the afternoon is generally a tough gig. The sun is at its most intense, raising the on-court temperature even higher than the mercury measures and sapping players’ energy like a sieve. On Wednesday, 20 January, this particular time slot on Rod Laver Arena comes with the added insult of being the curtain-raiser to Nick Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev.

For Alex de Minaur, though, these are mint conditions. The Australian favours quiet efficiency, of getting the job done as quickly as possible. That is probably why he runs so fast – the 32nd seed is one of the quickest on the men’s circuit. Against Polish world No 107 Kamil Majchrzak he was a whippet under the searing sun, securing his third-round progression 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 39 minutes.

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“Very happy,” De Minaur said afterwards. “Especially to get my first win ever on Rod Laver Arena. I just knew that as soon as Davis Cup was done for me [in December] it was time to get back on the grind. I had a down year last year so I wanted to make up for it. Made sure to work hard in the off-season to be in the best shape I have ever been in my career, and hard work pays off.”

De Minaur’s physical health suffered in the latter stages of last year following a bout of Covid-19, but has opened his 2022 season with self-assuredness, including an upset win over world No 7 Italian Matteo Berrettini at the ATP Cup.

The 22-year-old broke Majchrzak early in each set and dropped only two points in the third and sent down 35 winners to his opponent’s 25. He finished him off with his 11th ace, setting up a third-round encounter with Pablo Andújar – who beat de Minaur in their only previous meeting – in a bid to make the round of 16 for the first time in his career.

“I know Pablo very well,” he said. “I’ve hit a lot with him. You know, he’s a terrific competitor. He’s had some amazing wins.”

De Minaur is blessed with blinding speed and a physical and mental strength often likened to countrymen Lleyton Hewitt, and drops serves up to the region of 230kph.

“I think I’m just … quick on the court,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say. You got amazing athletes out there, I’m going to try and chase every single ball and hopefully make it as tough as can I for my opponents. That’s just my mindset.”

Kyrgios, of course, is the main attraction of the tournament’s fourth day. Did he plan to watch?

“Of course I’m tuning in,” he said. “I’m pretty sure all of Australia is tuning in. It is going to be a hell of a match. Expect showtime from Nick. Expect one of the most solid guys on tour with Daniil. It will be a popcorn match. I’m definitely not going to miss it.”

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