Aussie tennis teen Alex De Minaur’s dreams of winning his maiden title were shattered in his defeat to Ryan Harrison at the Brisbane International this week, but who is this rookie, and how did he get to his first semi-finals in his home country? By Jade du Preez
Alex De Minaur is a well-known face amongst those who follow tennis avidly. He’s spent the last 18 months as the hitting partner for the Australian Davis Cup team, a big ask for a guy who doesn’t even live in the country anymore. De Minaur was born in Sydney, Australia but moved to Spain with his family during his primary education years for his father’s business.
He has remained an Australian national and splits his time between Alicante in Spain for training and Australia for the summer tournaments. But this flittering hasn’t stopped the Aussies from loving him. The support behind him since he turned pro in 2015 has been positive and he’s had a quiet rise, with his 208th ranking set to improve after his stellar performance at Brisbane this week.
He hasn’t had the raucous and unstable start that some of the other young Aussie players have had. In fact, the hype and drama surrounding Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinakis has probably drowned De Minaur’s success out a little, as his mature nature seems to be taking him down a different path.
With Kyrgios and Tomic, their discontent with the sport shows, and Kokkinakis has just been dragged down by accident in their whirlwind controversy, but there is a quiet determination evident with De Minaur. He’s humble and somewhat unassuming. He rarely posts flashy snaps on social media, instead opting for training shots. Showing his sweat and hard work, instead of the spoils and luxuries of the tour.
Often a crowd pleaser, De Minaur speaks three languages – English, Spanish and French – which is something that has won over stadiums for players like Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic in the past. Now that he’s got crowds at the Mutua Madrid Open, The French Open, and the Australian Open under his thumb, it’ll take persistence to kick the bad attitude persona that Aussie players seemed to have acquired recently, and get crowds behind him through his underdog years.
In many ways, there is something Lleyton Hewitt-esque about De Minaur’s determination, and his success on home soil strikes a jarring similarity. He’s not yet at Grand Slam winning capabilities, but give him a few years and this 18-year-old could surprise you. He took out Canada’s Milos Raonic, as well as America’s Steve Johnson and Michael Mmoh on his road to the Brisbane International semi-final, not dropping a set the entire time, until he reached his match against America’s Ryan Harrison.
De Minaur took the first set 6-4, in what looked to be a run of the mill match, but ultimately lost 6-4, 6-7, 4-6. It wasn’t the result he was looking for, nor would the Aussie Fanatics be happy, but it gave him a boost during an unusually quiet time for Kyrgios and Co. and undoubtedly more eyes will be on him for the rest of the Aussie summer.