After beating Rafael Nadal, Alex de Minaur sets his eyes at Novak Djokovic


Alex de Minaur will compete in the Australian Open fourth round for the second straight year. The Sydney native lost to Jannik Sinner a year ago and will face an ultimate obstacle on Monday night. Alex faces a nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, seeking his first Major quarter-final in front of the partisan Australian crowd at Rod Laver Arena. De Minaur will play against Djokovic for the first time, hoping to bring his A-game and challenge a 21-time Major winner. Alex will try to focus on his tennis and leave Novak’s hamstring injury behind. The Serb has been dealing with his left leg injury since Adelaide, passing the opening three rounds in Melbourne but struggling physically. De Minaur will try to use the momentum from another notable victory at the start of the season, beating Rafael Nadal 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 in front of the home fans in Sydney at the United Cup. Alex saved eight out of 12 break points and took Rafa’s serve six times, including that essential one at 5-5 in the decider.

Nadal took the opener and forged an early advantage in the second before losing ground and dropping six straight games! The Spaniard recovered in the decider but experienced a late break to propel the rival over the top. Alex led 3-2 in the first set before Rafa rattled off four straight games and clinched it 6-3. The Spaniard built the lead in the second set with an early break before the Aussie took charge. Alex seized the fourth break chance in game two with a backhand winner and moved 3-1 in front with another in game four. De Minaur broke Nadal for the third straight time to open a 5-1 gap and came from 40-0 down in the next one to wrap up the set in style and force a decider. Rafa made a better start, serving well and earning break opportunities in game two. De Minaur denied four and avoided an early setback.

Alex de Minaur and Novak Djokovic meet for the first time in Melbourne.

Alex grabbed a break at 15 in game five before Rafa cracked a forehand crosscourt winner in the next one to lock the result at 3-3 and keep fighting. The Spaniard held at love in the ninth game for 5-4 and left his opponent serving to stay in the match. Alex brought the tenth game home at 30 for 5-5 and more drama. In the worst moment, Nadal played a terrible service game and got broken at love after a forehand error to fall 6-5 behind. De Minaur served for the victory in game 12 and fired a service winner for a hold at love and a career-best win in his hometown. Alex is trying to become the first Aussie in the Australian Open quarter-final since Nick Kyrgios in 2015. 

“I’m not going to read into too much of that injury. Ultimately, Novak is one of the best players in the world, and I will have to take it to him and not shy away from the occasion. I will make sure to make it as tough as possible and bring my recent experience on the court and how I have been feeling. I will get fired up, get the crowd behind me and have a good time,” Alex de Minaur said.

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