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Alex de Minaur: Five Facts About Australia’s Latest Tennis Star

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Alex de Minaur (zimbio.com)

17-year-old Alex de Minaur has made headlines on the opening day at the Australian Open. Making his debut in the main draw of a grand slam tournament, the teenager stunned Austria’s Gerald Melzer 5-7, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-1, saving a match point on route. The win comes only two weeks after he made his ATP Tour debut in Brisbane, where he stunned Benoit Paire in the first round.

 

De Minaur is the first 17-year-old to win a grand slam match on the men’s tour since Borna Coric at the 2014 US Open. Tipped by many in his home country as the next big things in the men’s game, here are five things to know about the rising star.

Comes from a multi-national background

De Minaur was born in Sydney on February 17th 1999. His mother comes from Spain and father comes from Uruguay. He lived in Alicante, Spain until the age of five before he moved to Australia, where he was mentored by the national tennis body. Due to his international routes, de Minaur can speak English, Spanish and French.

Had a successful junior career

In February 2016, the Australian peaked at a high of 2nd in the world on the junior tour. Achieving good performances in both singles and doubles, De Minaur is the current Australian Open boys’ doubles champion and reached the final in the singles category at Wimbledon. His combined win-loss record on the junior circuit is 178 – 97 according to figures provided by the ITF.

Reached his first Challenger final in 2016

De Minaur’s first senior breakthrough occurred last November in Germany at the Bauer Watertechnology Cup, a Challenger event. After coming through qualifying, he knocked out Kenny de Schepper, Jurgen Melzer and Franko Skugor in the main draw on his way to the final. He was denied his first Challenger title by Belgium’s Steve Darcis.

Currently he has only won one senior trophy – a doubles title from a Futures tournament in Spain.

Has a close bond with Lleyton Hewitt

Seven-time grand slam doubles champion John Fitzgerald describes Minaur as “a young Lleyton Hewitt’. It is an association that will delight the teenager.

In recent years de Minaur has been cheered on and mentored by Hewitt. Leading up to this year’s Australian Open, the youngster has been residing in Hewitt’s house.

“It was great to just have that inside advice all the time and get his thoughts on everything,” De Minaur told Fairfax Media.
“It was a great preparation for the Australian Open. A very tough pre-season and I couldn’t be happier. I stayed with him in Sydney and also at his place in Melbourne. At the French Open last year in the juniors, he came out and we had a nice chat and told me that he would be very supportive of everything I needed.
“It’s been unbelievable the amount of stuff he’s done for me. I couldn’t be more grateful. I spent time with his family and we went out with the family for dinner together … it was nice.”

Hewitt was also 17 when he won his first grand slam match.

Nicknamed ‘Demon’ by fellow teammates

During his time as an orange boy (hitting partner) during Australia’s Davis Cup tie against Slovakia, De Minaur earnt the nickname ‘Demon’. It was given to him be teammates Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title

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Defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past John Isner and Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-7 (6-7) 12-10 to claim their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title together at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Mektic and Pavic broke twice to win a one-sided opening set 6-2. Both teams went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break of the second set. The Croatians earned a championship point at 6-5 in the tie-break, but Schwartzman hit a pair of forehand winners to force a Match Tie-Break. 

Both teams did not convert match points before Mektic and Pavic won the final two points to seal the Match Tie-Break 11-9. 

Isner became the first player to reach three Masters 1000 doubles finals with three different players in the same year. The US player won two consecutive Sunshine Double trophies in Indian Wells with Jack Sock and the Miami Open with Hubert Hurkacz.  Mektic and Pavic won nine ATP Tour titles last year and finished the 2021 season as the world number 1 team in the ATP Doubles Rannking. They had not won a title so far in 2022 before the Rome tournament, but they showed their form this week, as they dropped just one set during the tournament. The Croatian Doubles team beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in the semifinal on Saturday.

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Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Announces Pregnancy

Tennis’ power couple are set to become parents later this year.

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Former world No.3 Elina Svitoliva has announced that she is expecting a baby girl in October on social media.

 

The 27-year-old made the announcement on Sunday morning with a picture of her and her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils. Known by some as the sports ‘power couple,’ the two tied the knot last July in Geneva ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games after first going public about their relationship in 2019. They even have their own Instagram account called ‘g.e.m.s. life’ which has more than 139,000 followers.

“With a heart full of love and happiness, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting a baby girl in October,” the couple wrote on Twitter.

Svitolina hadn’t played on the Tour since losing to Heather Watson at the Miami Open in March after deciding to take time away from the sport due to events happening in her home country. Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine earlier this year which has claimed thousands of lives. Svitolina is one of the sport’s most outspoken players regarding the conflict. She has previously spoken out against the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes from Wimbledon by arguing that they should be allowed to participate if they condemn the actions of their home countries.

We don’t want them banned completely,” Svitolina told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“If players don’t speak out against the Russian government then it is the right thing to ban them.”

Prior to announcing her pregnancy, Svitolina has achieved a win-loss record of 5-8 on the Tour this season with her best runs being to the third round of the Australian Open and the quarter-finals of a WTA event in Monterrey.

During her career, the Ukrainian has won 16 WTA titles and reached the semi-finals of two Grand Slams during 2019.

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