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Alex De Minaur: “I grew up watching Hewitt on television”

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Alex De Minaur has become the second player to qualify for the semifinals of the Next Gen ATP Final at Milano Fiera after beating 2017 finalist Andrey Rublev 4-1 3-4 (5-7) 4-2.

 

“It was great. I knew coming in it was going to be a really tough match and I was going to have to play some really good tennis and not leave too many balls short because his forehand is seriously one of the most dangerous weapons out there on the ATP Tour. It’s not over yet. I am very happy with my win today and it’s been a great year, but tomorrow’s another day and you have to get back out there and keep doing the same”,said De Minaur after the match against Rublev.

 De Minaur started the Next Gen Finals week in Milan with a 4-1 4-1 4-2 win over Italian wild card Liam Caruana, who is ranked world number 622.

“I could not think of a better start to my tournament. I played against Caruana in juniors funnily enough a while back, and it was actually in Italy as well. The best thing was just to be really intense”,said De Minaur to Tennis Talks.

The world number 31 will face Taylor Fritz on Thursday evening. They have never met on the ATP Tour, but De Minaur beat Fritz at the ATP Challenger Tour tournament in Surbiton earlier this year.

Australia’s Alex De Minaur reached a career-high of world number 31 after starting the year at world number 210 in the ATP Ranking. He is the only teenager in the 2018 ATP Next Gen Finals field and the Number 1 Australian player in the ATP Ranking.

Alex was born in Sydney to a Spanish mother Esther and a Uruguayan father Anibal. Alex spent the first five years of his life in Australia before moving to Alicante in Spain. The family returned to Australia, when he was 13 years old, and went back to Spain three years later. De Minaur spends his time between Australia and Spain. Alex speaks English, Spanish and French.

De Minaur reached a career-high ranking of number 2 in the junior ranking and won the 2016 Australian Open boys’ doubles title alongside Blake Ellis.

“I started playing tennis at the age of 4. My mother signed me up for lessons and I soon enjoyed it. I watched tennis matches on TV dreaming to become a tennis player one day. I transformed my passion into a job. I have been guided by my current coach Adolfo Gutierrez since I was eight years old. He has helped me grow as a player. He played an important role when I became a professional player. I definitely wasn’t expecting this. It has been a great year. I have played some unbelievable tennis. I want to continue working hard to develop my athletic training and my strength. It’s only way to keep up with the best players in the world”.

He started the 2018 season by reaching the semifinal in Brisbane and the final in Sydney. He was the youngest player to reach semifinals in consecutive weeks since Rafa Nadal at the 2005 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and Barcelona Open.

Last August Alex saved four match points in the second set tie-break against last year’s ATP Next Gen Finals runner-up Andrey Rublev in the semifinal of the Citi Open ATP 500 in Washington en route to reaching the final.

“I did not really expect to reach this ranking so quicky. At the start of the year I and my team had set the goal to reach the top 100, but the year has gone extremely well. I reached my first final in Washington against Alexander Zverev. I am proud to be here in Milan for the Next Gen Finals. I am enjoying every second of it”.

De Minaur works with Australian legend Lleyton Hewitt, who is Alex’s mentor during Grand Slam tournaments and Davis Cup ties.

“Lleyton Hewitt is a fantastic person. It’s a great bonus to be advised by such a great player. I grew up watching him on television. He has always been my idol. It’s a dream come true to have him as a mentor. My teammates welcomed me as an important of the Davis Cup team. The t-shirt of the Australian team has a magic power. I have a good relationship to Nick Kyrgios. He is like an elder brother. He has suffered from some injuries but he will return to his best form”, said De Minaur to the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

De Minaur provided his opinion on the innovative rules introduced at the Next Gen ATP Finals.

“With this format every single point counts, so you have gotta be there point and point out and try to take care of your service games, and not get into many of those awkward sudden death deuces, because that can only mean trouble. Just play aggressive and have some fun here”,reflected De Minaur.

Hewitt enjoys watching football outside the tennis court.

“I really like football. My favourite team is Real Madrid. My mother is a longtime fan of this sport. I cannot follow all the matches becuse of the jetleg. This passion emerges from my latin origin. I also like playing golf. I would be a golfer if I was not a tennis player.”

 

 

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Kei Nishikori recovers from a slow start to beat Taylor Fritz in Barcelona

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Kei Nishikori beat Taylor Fritz 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 41 minutes to advance to the second round at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

 

Kei Nishikori raliied from 1-4 down in the first set to reel off 12 of the next 15 games.

Fritz converted his second break point in the fourth game and held his service game to open up a 4-1 lead. Nishikori broke twice in the seventh and eleventh games to take a 6-5 lead. The Japanese player served out the first set 7-5 at deuce after saving a break point.

Nishikori went up a double break in the third and fifth games to seal the second set 6-2.

Nishikori and Fritz met once before in the 2016 Memphis final, when the Japanese player beat his younger US rival to clinch his fourth consecutive Memphis title.

Nishikori bounced back from his opening round defeat against Pierre Hugues Herbert last week in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori claimed two consecutive titles in Barcelona in 2014 and 2015 and finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal, who won the Barcelona title 11 times.

The Japanese player will face Canadian 18-year-old Next Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime or Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.

Jaziri came back from one set to beat Guido Andreozzi 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-2 after 2 hours and 42 minutes.

Spanish veteran David Ferrer dropped just 11 points in his service points to ease past Germany’s Misha Zverev 6-3 6-1 after 65 minutes. Ferrer will face Frenchman Lucas Pouille in the second round.

Teenager Nicola Kuhn from Spain edged past Argentina’s Federico Delbonis 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 30 minutes scoring the biggest win of his career.

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Matteo Berrettini beats Mikhail Kukushkin in Budapest

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Italy’s Matteo Berrettini claimed his first win on clay this season with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin in the opening round of the Hungarian Open.

 

The first set started with four breaks of serve in the first five games, as Berrettini built up a 4-1 lead. Kukushkin pulled back one of the three breaks in the sixth game for 2-4. Berrettini held his final two games at love to claim the first set 6-4.

Berrettini went up a double break in the first and fifth games to open up a 5-1 lead. The Italian player wasted his first match point. Kukushkin got one break back and saved another match point to hold his service game to win his third consecutive game for 4-5, but Berrettini served out the win at love in the 10th game.

Berrettini set up a second round against Aljaz Bedene, who came back from a double break down in the opening set to beat Bernard Tomic 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Radu Albot from Moldova broke serve twice in each set to seal a 7-5 6-4 win over Sergiy Stakhovsky on his fourth match point after 1 hour and 41 minutes setting up a second round against Filip Krajnovic, who edged Andreas Seppi 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 after wasting four match points in the second set.

Marco Cecchinato has pulled out of the Hungarian Open and will not defend the title he won last year.

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Fernando Verdasco wins all-Spanish clash against Feliciano Lopez in Barcelona first round

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Fernando Verdasco beat Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-3 in 81 minutes at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

 

Former Barcelona champion Verdasco, who won this tournament in 2010, improved his win-loss record against his compatriot to 6-5 in their 11 head-to-head matches.

Verdasco claimed his only break point at love to close out the first set 6-4. Lopez got his first break at deuce in the opening game of the second set. Verdasco won four consecutive breaks from 2-3 down with two breaks to wrap up the second set 6-3. Verdasco will face Grigor Dimitrov in the second round.

Taylor Fritz won an all-American first round clash against giant Reilly Opelka 6-3 6-4 after just 55 minutes In the match between two US rising stars Fritz never faced a break point and converted one break point in each set from the four chances he created to cruise into the second round.

Fritz earned the only break in the fifth game of the first set at 15 to take a 3-2 lead after Opelka made a volley error in the fifth game. Fritz hit three service winners in the ninth game to seal the opening set 6-3.

Fritz went up a set and a break in the third game of the second set with a forehand winner. He hit a forehand winner to close out the match, as he was serving for the match at 5-4.

Diego Schwartzman came back from one set down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6 6-4 6-2.

Nishioka converted his fourth break point in the first game, but Schwartzman broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. After a trade of breaks in the sixth and seventh games Nishioka saved saved three break points to hold his serve in the eighth game. The Japanese player converted his fifth break point after a double fault from Schwartzman in the ninth game. Nishioka served out the first set at love.

Both players traded breaks twice in the second set en route to drawing level to 4-4. Schwartzman broke serve in the 10th game to close out the second set 6-4. Schwartman reeled off four consecutive games from 2-2 with two breaks of serve to win the third set.

Schwartman was playing his third match in Barcelona because he had to play the qualifying round. He forgot to sign before the tournament deadline.

Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer battled past Marius Copil 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 7-5 after two hours and 36 minutes to score his ninth match win of the season.

Mayer earned his first break to race out to a 3-0 lead and saved four break points at 3-1. He held his final two service games to close out the second set 6-3. Both players saved a total of four break points in the second set to hold their service games en route to the tie-break. Copil earned three mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-3 forcing the match to the third set. Mayer got the only break at love in the 12th game to seal the third set 7-5.

German Jan-Lennard Struff cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-3 6-1 after just 51 minutes. Struff saved all three break points and dropped 14 points in 8 service games. He broke once in the fourth game of the first set and three times in a row to seal the win.

Jaume Munar came back from one set down to beat Portuguese qualifier Pedro Souza 2-6 6-4 6-0 setting up a second round match against US Frances Tiafoe. Sousa got four of the six breaks to win the first set 6-4. The second set went on serve until the 10th game, when Munar got his first break on his third chance to close out the second set 6-4. The Spaniard broke three times to take a bagel win in the third set.

Mackenzie McDonald saw off Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-2 6-2 in just 57 minutes. Mackenzie converted four of hi sten break points and dropped nine points in eight service games. He won the final four games of the first set from 2-2 with two breaks to close out the first set 6-2. He got two more breaks in the third and eighth games to wrap up the match with with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics cruised past Denis Kudla 6-4 6-1. The Hungarian player saved two break points he faced and converted four of his nine break points.

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