Tennis Prose



De Minaur Fires Up In Brisbane ATP Cup

By Louise Belcourt

As Australia battles the worst fires in recent history, the diminutive Aussie has lifted the Aussie spirit by capturing a hard fought, come from behind 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2 win over Alexander Zverev.

In the inaugural ATP Cup event in Brisbane, the 20-year old had a sluggish start admitting he struggled with nerves being the first match of the season as well as playing for his country.

Indeed, the matchup between the two couldn’t have been any starker. The 6 foot 6 German had won all 4 meetings between the pair, with the last 3 wins coming in easy straight sets. Zverev is ranked 7th in the world and holds a notable name in the glitz of the tennis world. Then there is 6 foot De Minaur ranked 18th, only last year marking his presence in the tennis world by winning 3 titles.

During the first set and half the German was impressive, overpowering and outplaying the Aussie from the baseline and being aggressive at the net. But there was one thing you know about De Minaur, like his mentor and captain Lleyton Hewitt, is that he would never give up. Down 4-2 and 15-40 on serve, De Minaur would turn the match around with his dogged determination and speed around the baseline and return of serve. Of that critical moment Hewitt said with pride “was a couple of massive points and a lot of guys would have given it away at that stage. He was able to dig deep and then regroup and be positive and use that positive energy to be able to turn the match around.”

The likeable Aussie even showed the flair of Kyrgios, who was sitting (when he wasn’t jumping in the air, lying dead on the floor, or doing push ups) in the stands. At one point the ball dropped short bouncing high near the net for an easy put away for Zverev, but De Minaur would not lie down and leapt high into the air hitting a cross court winning pass that Nick would have been impressed to pull off.

The German did help the situation by throwing in 14 double faults, and true to past form, his racket was no match for his frustration smashing it after losing the second set tiebreaker. Zverev admitted “I’m not feeling my serve. That’s no secret. But I think I just didn’t practice enough, to be honest. I’m on, what day? Seven, day eight of tennis. It’s tough. Even though that the match could have gone 6-2, 6-2 my way, to be honest.”

Of learning that Kyrgios was doing pushups after every one of his 14 double faults Zverev responded that he didn’t care about it but that “I know that Grigor almost had a fight with him and Jack [Sock] in 2018 [during the Laver Cup]. Yeah, I mean, he can do whatever he wants. If he wants to do pushups, that’s fine, as long as he doesn’t offend anybody.”

Post match, De Minaur acknowledged Hewitt’s input had been critical in turning the tide.

“[Hewitt said] to stay in the moment. That I was really close to turning that match around, even though I was probably borderline getting a bit frustrated“.  The importance of the win was not lost on the Aussie, “So it’s just about getting in my head that I’m good enough to match it with these guys. And every sort of top-10 win and high level opponent win I get, it’s a bit more confidence in myself and just trying to back myself.”

Even though this was the first match of the year, it was good to see where De Minaur’s game is at against a top 10 player. There has been a lot of talk in Australia about him reaching the top ten, and even the great Ken Rosewall said he is “Australia’s great hope to win a grand slam” like fellow down to earth Aussie world number 1 Ash Barty. We all know his size (at 152 pounds or 69kg) is something that will hinder him, unlike Kyrgios he cannot rely on any easy points on serve, but his serve and shot placement as well as change of pace will rattle players, and his defence at the baseline could eventually be nearly as good as the great Novak Djokovic, but it is his work ethic and never give up attitude of his mentor Lleyton Hewitt that is his greatest asset.

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  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2020 at 12:36 pm

    A Gauff vs Mcnally rivalry could be good. Mcnally has been quiet lately. Sandgren going to top ten would be nice, he stirs up controversy. THink he lost today to Moutet though. Will America ever create another McEnroe Connors Agassi rebel? Looks unlikely.

  • Andrew Miller · January 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Moutet is good – ATP lefty revival? See young (age 25 or younger) lefties below. I was surprised looking this up, more lefties, of all ages, in the top 100 than I expected, healthy amount. Vesely alas…

    14 Denis Shapovalov (Left-handed (two-handed backhand))
    53 Cameron Norrie (Left-handed (two-handed backhand))
    57 Ugo Humbert (Left-handed (two-handed backhand))
    73 Yoshihito Nishioka (Left-handed (two-handed backhand))
    83 Corentin Moutet (Left-Handed (2-Handed Backhand))
    94 Dominik Koepfer (Left-Handed (2-Handed Backhand))

  • Andrew Miller · January 6, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Will take a Gauff-McNally commercial. But no rivalry is on the horizon just yet so…no commercial just yet.

    Such a classic commercial, and “everyone” (meaning enough people) knew “Andre and Pete”

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 6, 2020 at 12:53 pm

    Stunned that Nishioka is only ten spots ahead of Moutet, Moutet had a big year last year post Tallahassee.

  • Hartt · January 6, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    What is this about a Shapo 2-handed BH? He has a one-hander, and has since he was a kid.

  • Andrew Miller · January 6, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Hartt, sorry, I copy/pasted from another blog’s list of lefty men’s players in the ATP and didn’t check it. Shapo indeed has a lovely one-hander. I hope he has a goal of doing what Federer did with his one-hander, make it as dependable + versatile as possible.

  • Andrew Miller · January 6, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    Humbert/Moutet are nice lefties from France. I like their games, not sure on the courage factor. Humbert caught my eye with his play in Milan at the ATP NextGen finals tournament. Humbert had a nice Wimbledon for an afterthought in the tennis world. Like what I saw, but we can never be too sure in the land of unstable lefties especially from France.

    There’s always the possibility they will go all Leconte/Forget/Llodra/Golmard/Manny on you (which would be welcome) or alternatively that they will find their inner Millot.

  • Harold · January 6, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Sandgren top ten….wow!

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