Oct/19

30

Perfect in Paris: de Minaur is a nightmare to play

Quietly, Alex de Minaur is making a explosive impact on the ATP World Tour.

The 20-year-old has won 34 matches this year, including three titles and is now ranked 18 after starting the year ranked 31.

Today de Minaur dismantled veteran Spaniard Roberto Batista Agut 76 76 with a display of perfect tennis.

The Australian, coached by Adolf Gutierrez and Lleyton Hewitt at majors and Davis Cup, outsmarted, outwilled, and outgamed the former top ten star Agut.

de Minaur is a machine who perfectly blends his defense and counterpunching with a high IQ tennis brain. He never takes a stupid shot or unnecessary risk. He flies around the court and when the opening is created he can accelerate his power and strike the winner.

After a couple of hours of playing this mighty wall, Agut totally snapped. After missing a backhand into the net to fall down 0-5 in the second set tiebreaker, Agut smashed his racquet into the court. It was the first time I recall ever seeing him so upset.

Agut had just cause to be upset. He lost 62 62 to de Minaur in Zhuhai, China semifinals last month. He clearly wanted revenge today.

Agut was playing solid tennis, grinding the points, consistent as he always is but de Minaur was that fraction more consistent, smarter, quicker, better. Agut’s rage was not provoked by that one miss, it was an accumulation of being bested over and over on the key points.

Agut seemed to be saying, “I am playing very good tennis, I am doing nothing wrong but this pain in the ass kid will not give me one damned stupid mistake and he plays even better on the pressure points.”

All year long de Minaur has been a nightmare for opponents, taking down some formidable opposition like Reilly Opelka four times, Kei Nishikori at US Open, Taylor Fritz twice, Andreas Seppi twice, Gilles Simon, Nicolas Jarry, Andy Murray, Borna Coric, John Millman, and Jan-Lennard Struff.

How this six foot, 152 pounder, who could pass for playing 16 and unders, manages to consistently win ATP matches and three titles (Zhuhai, Atlanta, Sydney) has to be one of the most intriguing stories of the year.

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22 comments

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 7:35 am

    De Minaur is good. Work to do! Today’s match with De Minaur and Tsitsipas should be fun.

    So too Shapovalov vs Zverev.

    Will Tsonga, who out-Tsonga-d Berretini, also out Tsonga Struff?! He likes playing big guys with similar games in front of a home crowd!

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 9:25 am

    De Minaur is going places. Top 5 I say. Best all around mental game, retrieving skills and court IQ. Everything about his game is underrated. And he will only get better. Heck, he could get to no. 1.

  • Dan Markowitz · October 31, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Scoop,

    de Minaur is like pushing 5 and weighs maybe 165. He’s not going to be No. 1. A guy like Thiem who has more weapons and firepower and is bigger for the same reason is not going to be no. 1. The days of guys like Lleyton Hewitt’s and Andre Agassi’s being No. 1 is over.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 31, 2019 at 10:57 am

    Nope Dan, I see de Minaur as having something magical and immeasurable in his game that nobody understands or can estimate. He is the freak of an era, magical countering, magical defense, tennis brain beyond his years and the norm, off the charts desire and self belief. This combination of qualities makes anything possible. Hewitt, Rios, Halep proved it. de Minaur is going places. At age 20 now, he’s 18 in the world and he will keep going. More experience, more guidance from Hewitt, more wins…a tennis monster is being created. No. 1 is possible. Top 5 is a lock.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Magic de Minaur loses to Tsitsipas. Badly.

    I like De Minaur. I hope he hits the gym or eats more. I saw some stuff in his game he needs to work on, he played around too much in his Federer match. Also needs a game plan. Some of his combos aren’t working. Somehow serving worse than he had a few months ago.

  • Andrew James Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Beware when Scoop calls you a magical player…it has the same effect on your game as practicing with Federer during a tournament when you’re in the same side of the draw.

  • Andrew Miller · October 31, 2019 at 11:41 am

    Beware when Scoop calls you magic..

  • Doug Day · November 3, 2019 at 6:58 am

    In the match previous to Agut,Demon had zero unforced in the final two sets. Movement is dazzling. Alex is as good a bet as any if he stays healthy.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 8:28 am

    Doug, Deminaur just doesn’t miss and when he does miss it’s by an inch, he’s a nightmare to play. Never makes a dumb move on the court. Tries harder than everyone. Competes better than everyone but Rafa.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 9:45 am

    De Minaur has made many dumb moves. He’s also made poor choices on approach shots and reminda me of Roddick’s tendencies there. As I know he’s extremely hard on himself and works with a sports psychologist, he’s probably open to working on this. I see him making the same mistakes for past four months so he’s going to need to work through the issues.

    He’s got a good chance at being the Svitolina of the ATP tour, which is a great result for anyone if he can do it. But if Thomas Johannson can win a slam against a talented but less motivated opponent, De Minaur certainly could put himself in position to go farther than he had so far.

    As of now he’s a “nice player” who is without question Australia’s best player. A worthy top twenty player who earns every point.

    However and I say this for anyone, he’s got to work on his strength, his combinations and strategies, etc. He’s shown some good stuff, but he is a triumph right now of enthusiasm and effort over strategy. He hasn’t shown he can think through a match. He has shown that he is courageous enough to hit back any serve (excellent) and go toe to toe. Just that he can’t go toe to toe with everyone even his better young peers.

    And that’s what he’ll need. For what it’s worth the Nadals love him. But they don’t fear him. But they fear Medvedev!!!

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 9:50 am

    Dan, how do you see Djokovic, who patterned his entire game around the groundstrokes of Agassi (forehand and backhand), Sampras (serve – second serve), others (volley – Martin, Becker)?? Literally copied their games.

    Agassi was a lot better player than Hewitt – best return of serve, huge groundstrokes, excellent strategist. So many of those attributes are missing today in top ten players. I agree Hewitt would find it tough to break through the top five today, but I’m not convinced Agassi wouldn’t.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Agassi was not the hero of Djokovic, he never stated Agassi as a tennis hero, he said his hero was Sampras and I believe Becker and Edberg.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Djokovic, two handed backhand, carbon copy of Agassi. Forehand a tweak.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Djoko dusts off Shapo, too bad! Shapo should follow the Medvedev example, learn from.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 3:30 pm

    Medvedev is a couple of years ahead of Shap in years and exp. Shap is ahead of Med though at the same age. Nothing to be ashamed of for Shap, he will continue to progress and reach the Medlevel too. And go beyond.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    Scoop, Nadal showed better the skip the whole how are you pegged to your age. Youzhny has shortcut all that junk thinking, and Shapo proved it by making the Paris final and earlier at the US Open by playing cutthroat tennis. Young players should kick the excuses away because when you’re like oh for my age hey I’m doing pretty darn well…look where they are now?

    Better to follow the Medvedev example of impatience to be at the top level. Safin said something similar to this effect. Tsitsipas picked up on it and has been around fifty fifty in matching his desire to force the issue with the big guys.

    We’ve talked about this before and of course it’s an ongoing debate. If you want to take over the kingdom you have to go ahead and do it. Medvedev has done a good job of taunting the big guys. Shapovalov has demonstrated pretty consistently and especially under Youzhny that he’s getting better by the tournament.

    Shapovalov is scalping very good players. This bodes well. Youzhny effect noticeable.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Scoop, Medvedev has been playing well all year so you are right. Shapovalov will need that kind of stretch of tournament wins and big wins against big players (he has some and needs more so that he has the knowledge and also the confidence tank on “Full”). He needed every match from January to now – he’s become very very tough – only hiccup in months really was this week.

    Yes I think this is right and it’s the same pattern as Nadal followed from 2004-2005, where his game caught fire and was able to floor it, show himself how capable he was of playing the kind of tennis necessary tournament in, tournament out.

    My one thing is just to believe he belongs out there playing a huge final against Djokovic. He has done a nice job preparing for every tournament. He looked nervous today and he needs some conditioning, strength training, prep so that he can withstand the physicality of these big finals.

    So yes Shapovalov followed up his first ever tournament with a Masters final – whether or not he played Nadal in the semis doesn’t matter. Shapovalov has beaten Nadal before.

    Best thing to me Shapovalov saw today was how Djokovic was ready to break from the first ball. And the celebration afterwords. Good front row seat to champions level. He will remember this and hope he gets more of these big matches.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Andrew, it’s vitally key that Shap had the sense to hire Youzhny and this overdue, needed breakout happened. Key career segment foe Shap. This is a foundation for big results in 2020. Shap was stagnated but now he’s thriving. And youzhny will make sure it continues.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 3, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Arias offered on the air to fine tune Shapovolleys at img this off season. Arias sees an area he can fix, also bh returns.

  • Andrew Miller · November 3, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Arias must like Shapovalov. Much as most next gen players fans have good luck, these guys are good. If a fan of Federer, Nadal (looking at Jackson here), Djokovic can’t find an up and coming player they like then they aren’t trying, all these guys are good.

  • Hartt · November 4, 2019 at 7:42 am

    Arias had predicted that Shapo would win Paris, and then changed his mind after Novak played so well in his SF. So Arias does like Shapo. Maybe Denis will take him up on his offer, because I wonder if Youzhny will want to leave his home during the off season/

    They have been working on Denis’ BH return. I think this stat is from before the Paris final.

    First serve BH return:

    before Y – topspin 81%, slice 19%

    Paris 2019 – topspin 45%, slice 55%

  • Hartt · November 4, 2019 at 7:52 am

    I am looking forward to seeing Shapo in Davis Cup, and am praying that FAA and Milos are healthy. Pospisil has been winning Challengers lately. Yesterday he beat fellow Canuck Brayden Schnur in the Charlottesville final, and won the recent Challenger in Las Vegas. So it looks like he is healthy and in good form.

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