Led by 'very big heart', De Minaur into Acapulco QFs; Tsitsipas also wins

Draper cruised into last eight, Rune, Ruud & Shelton advance
February 29, 2024
Alex de Minaur loses just four games in his win against Sebastian Ofner Wednesday. By ATP Staff

Alex de Minaur has been in imperious form during his Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC title defence, losing only seven games en route to the quarter-finals.

According to the Australian, who defeated Sebastian Ofner 6-1, 6-3 on Wednesday evening to make the last eight, one thing is always behind his success.

“I’ve got a very big heart, I'll tell you that,” De Minaur said in his post-match interview. “This heart is going to keep me going, no matter what the score is, where I'm at, what stage of my career I am [in]. It's what's gotten me to this point so far, and it's what's going to hopefully get me further and further.”

After losing just three games in the first round against Taro Daniel, third seed De Minaur maintained his level against Ofner. He won 90 per cent of his first-serve points according to Infosys ATP Stats, dropping just two points behind his first delivery in the match.

De Minaur was also opportunistic on return, converting five of 12 break point opportunities to cruise through after one hour and 29 minutes.

“It's all about trying to put as much pressure as I can on my opponents every single service game,” De Minaur said. “And no matter what the result is in that game, just always try to stay in there and try to win a couple points here and there. To be honest, I don't think I'm doing anything special out there. I'm just asking the question.”

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The Australian, who is No. 9 in the PIF ATP Rankings, will next play fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who ousted Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli 6-3, 7-6(6).

The 10-time ATP Tour titlist served for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was unable to convert. Tsitsipas also trailed 5/2 in the ensuing tie-break, but remained calm under pressure to emerge victorious in straight sets.

"It's not an easy mountain to climb being 5/2 down and having your opponent serve twice," Tsitsipas said. "It's quite an incredible comeback to be honest in this part of the match, especially when the momentum shifts and changes so quick after serving for the match.

"It's something that you do not expect and there's definitely a lot of doubt creeping through your mind. I think at this particular moment I was just able to compose myself really well and I refused to go to a third set, which was very important."

The Greek saved two of the three break points he faced to advance to his second quarter-final of the season. He reached the semi-finals last week in Los Cabos.

Briton Jack Draper won a battle of lefties against Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3, 6-0 in the first completed match of the evening. The Briton hit 11 aces and saved all three break points he faced to capture the pair’s maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head encounter. He will next play Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who eliminated German Daniel Altmaier 6-4, 6-4.

German lefty Dominik Koepfer upset eighth seed Frances Tiafoe 6-4, 5-7, 6-1. The former college tennis star hit 11 aces and won a higher rate of second-serve points (68%) than he did first-serve points (67%).

Aside from Tiafoe’s loss, it proved a good day for Top 20 players in the PIF ATP Rankings in Acapulco. Holger Rune, Casper Ruud and Ben Shelton all advanced to the quarter-finals with victories late in the day in Mexico.

The World No. 7 Rune beat Aleksandar Kovacevic 7-6(5), 6-2 to set a last-eight meeting with Koepfer. The Dane saved all seven break points he faced to advance to his fifth ATP 500 quarter-final, and his second in Acapulco after his semi-final run last year.

The No. 11-ranked Ruud downed Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-5. The Norwegian next faces a showdown with lefty Shelton, who pulled through a thrilling clash with Matteo Arnaldi 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3 to reach his third tour-level quarter-final of the year. By reaching the last eight, Shelton matched the best Acapulco performance of his father and coach, Bryan Shelton, who made a quarter-final run in the Mexican city in 1994, when the tournament was held on clay.

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