Aussie Teen Makes Grand Entrance In Brisbane
At just 17 years of age, Alex De Minaur defied nerves and overcame the pressure of making his ATP World Tour qualifying debut, successfully booking his spot in the main draw at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp on Sunday.
In front of the home fans, the Sydney native was not rattled, even after dropping the first set against #NextGen star Frances Tiafoe, before rallying for a 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 victory in two hours and 19 minutes. It was the latest of a slew of impressive victories for the rising talent, having won three straight meetings with players ranked inside the Top 150 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. He opened his qualifying campaign in Brisbane with a straight-set win over World No. 89 Mikhail Kukushkin.
De Minaur was left speechless.
"I'm playing really good tennis, and at the moment I couldn't feel any better," the teen exclaimed. "It's unbelievable. Such a tough match, especially how hot it is outside. I'm really happy to get off the court with a win. At the end of the day, the first set was tough, so I knew hopefully I was going to get some chances in the second. I just made a big effort to stay in that match at all points and ended up getting my opportunity and I took it."
De Minaur hopes his junior success, having ascended to No. 2 in the world, translates to a fruitful career on the ATP World Tour. The World No. 348 has already begun his assault on the Emirates ATP Rankings, soaring nearly 200 spots with a run to the final at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Eckental, Germany, in November. It was just his third Challenger main draw.
The Aussie teen has the attention of his peers and even former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who was in attendance for his Brisbane qualifying win on Sunday.
"It's been good," said Hewitt. "I've done a lot of work over the summer with Alex. He's a great young kid. A 17 year old playing a young 18-year-old American, it was pretty good tennis out there. Three extremely tough sets in really tough conditions.
"I'm happy for Alex. He gets an opportunity now to play in a main draw of an ATP World Tour event. What a way to start the new year. He has a lot of ability, he wants to work hard and puts in a lot of hard hours. The training that he's done in November and December, coming in here, that's the main reason he was able to win today and he was able to back it up from yesterday."
De Minaur's roots extend throughout the world. The 17 year old was born in Sydney, has a Spanish mother and a Uruguayan father, and speaks English, French and Spanish. Having lived in Alicante, Spain, until he was five, his family moved to Australia for his father's restaurant business. There, with the support of Tennis Australia, he began looking towards a career in pro tennis.
Now, into his first ATP World Tour main draw, the Tecnifibre-sponsored player is relishing the opportunity and is excited to have the support of Hewitt. The two worked together during the teenager's off-season training block in Australia.
"So many times he's come back from tough matches," De Minuar added about Hewitt. "I'm happy I could do that today in the heat, especially having him out there. It means a lot."