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How De Minaur's Acapulco crown fuelled Top 10 breakthrough

Aussie first broke into Top 10 before Australian Open
February 26, 2024
Alex de Minaur won his seventh ATP Tour title last March in Acapulco.
Alex de Minaur won his seventh ATP Tour title last March in Acapulco. By Arthur Kapetanakis

Alex de Minaur celebrated the biggest title of his career last March at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco, where he won his first ATP 500 trophy thanks to a pair of comeback wins against Holger Rune and Tommy Paul. In the year since that triumph, the Aussie has achieved so much more — all setting the stage for his title defense.

In the second half of 2023, bolstered by the confidence gained from his Acapulco run, De Minaur reached finals at Queen's Club, Los Cabos and the Toronto ATP Masters 1000 before helping Australia reach the Davis Cup final to close the season. After picking up six Top 10 wins last year, De Minaur stormed out of the gates in 2024, kicking off the new year at the United Cup with three straight Top 10 victories against Taylor Fritz, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev.

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As a fitting reward for those results, De Minaur broke into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings himself for the first time just before this year's Australian Open.

"It's been a gradual improvement in my whole career and it's been great to get these wins against the other top players, because ultimately, in the past, that's probably what was letting me down. I wasn't able to break through against the Top 10 opponents," the Aussie, who is now at a career-high No. 9 after his final run in Rotterdam last week, told

"I used to always kind of struggle a lot more and I wasn't able to break through. And obviously if you want to rise up the rankings, it's pretty tough to do that if you're not winning these types of matches. But a couple big wins in Acapulco really gave me a lot of confidence and I was able to build on that. I had a great start to the year this year and hopefully I can keep it going."

De Minaur won the 2023 Acapulco title as the eighth seed, dominating in the early rounds before winning two marathon matches against Rune and Paul — both from a set down. He outlasted Rune in a semi-final that finished near 3 a.m., then pulled away late against Paul in a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 final victory.

"It was a super, super special week. Ultimately it was my biggest title to date," De Minuar said. "I played a really good match against Holger where I finished at I think 3:45 am. I had to do an ice bath and recover and the following day I was playing Tommy Paul in the final. I barely got any sleep. I got myself up for it and I ended up beating Tommy in three sets and having basically a fairytale week, so it was a great moment.

"You're just telling yourself you've got one more match to go. One big push. You leave it all out there, no matter what. You're playing for the title, so you just fake it 'til you make it."

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Another monumental task awaits De Minaur in his bid to retain the Acapulco crown. A loaded initial field includes more than half of Top 20 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, including Australian Open semi-finalist Alexander Zverev, Rune, Taylor Fritz and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Paul also returns after reaching the final last season, and he will be joined by fellow Americans Ben Shelton, Christopher Eubanks and Mackenzie McDonald.

While that large American contingent has the benefit of playing in a neighbouring country to the United States, Australia's De Minaur — who hails from halfway around the world — has felt right at home in Mexico lately. Following his Acapulco title run, the fluent Spanish-speaker fell one match shy of a Mexican sweep after a defeat to Tsitsipas in the Los Cabos final, finishing with a 9-1 record across the two events.

While De Minaur has never successfully defended an ATP Tour title, he has won the Atlanta trophy twice (2019, 2022). As he bids to make more personal history this year in Acapulco, the 25-year-old will fight until the very last ball, backing up his words from last year's trophy ceremony: "I've got a whole lot of heart in this little body of mine."

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