The stunning rise of Alex de Minaur has left one Australian tennis legend believing he’s ready for the next big step.
The 24-year-old Aussie ace has been on a scintillating tear to kick off the 2024 season with wins against three top-10 opponents.
He took down Novak Djokovic, Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev as he soared into the ATP’s top 10 rankings for the first time in his career.
He becomes the first male Australian player to achieve that feat since Lleyton Hewitt way back in 2006.
It’s his recent run of form that has left Pat Rafter believing he can now make a deep run into the second week of the Australian Open.
“The match he played against Zverev, I thought, hang on, this kid’s starting to really get it,” Rafter said.
“To beat Zverev when he’s at his top and now he’s top 10. To only reach one quarter by now, that surprises me.
“I thought he would have done better than that and I think that starts now; semis and finals, definitely.”
The Demon is rising. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
De Minaur arrived in Melbourne ahead of the Australian Open getting underway and said he’s a “little bit stronger” both physically and mentally for the 2024 campaign.
Despite the remarks he’s now stronger than ever, Rafter believes his stunning form is largely thanks to becoming a more patient player.
“If anything he’s probably just become a fraction more patient,” he said.
“He’s backing himself a bit more. Not making as many mistakes, backing himself a bit more to stay in rallies.
“Alex has tried to step up and hit the ball really hard, really big. I think he just needed to take that step back and be a fraction more patient.”
They are expectations de Minaur is keen to not just meet, but exceed and he knows he’s done the hard yards to leave him as well prepared as he could hope for — and prepared to take it up to the world’s best players for as long as it takes to beat them.
“All the work that I put in, ultimately it comes down to performing at the slams and going deep at the slams,” he said on Monday.
“That’s been a goal of mine for a while now, trying to push in, push second week of slams and deep end of these tournaments and it’s exactly where I want to be.
“I’ve had a great prep and hopefully I can show the same level I have when the tournament starts.
“Not just to do it in two-set matches, to bring it for a whole four, five hours if need be.”