‘Store it in the back of my head’: Keyboard warriors driving ‘dangerous’ de Minaur as golden summer beckons
Fuelled by critics on social media, Alex de Minaur has more big-name scalps in his sights after a victory over Alexander Zverev earned him a seat at tennis’s top table on the eve of the Australian Open.
The Australian No.1 will go into his home slam with added interest after securing a top-10 ranking for the first time in his career with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 win over Zverev at the United Cup in Sydney.
Australia may have lost their tie with Germany but de Minaur has found a hot streak ahead of next week’s tournament in Melbourne.
His second-ever defeat of Olympic champion Zverev on Saturday book-ended a potentially seminal week in his career after the 24-year-old downed Novak Djokovic for the first time.
Far from the game’s biggest or strongest, de Minaur says he’ll continue to rely on online knockers for encouragement as he aims to go deep in Melbourne.
“I was able to really step it up after my first match and get that confidence and it’s great getting these matches before the Australian Open,” de Minaur said.
“It was very special and it’s a moment I’ll cherish forever.
“I see all the reasons why I’m not going to be a good player, why I’m not going to make it or why I’m not going to improve.
“I store it in the back of my head, and I use it as motivation.
“Ultimately, it’s my drive that has put me in this position and I want to get the absolute most out of myself.”
Despite Saturday’s loss, Zverev still boasts a 6-2 head-to-head record against de Minaur.
But Germany’s world No.6 warned his fellow slam contenders that the Australian now represented a “very dangerous” opponent compared to the man he last faced almost 18 months ago.
“I feel like that’s the best Alex has played against me,” Zverev said.
“He’s in unbelievable form… his forehand has always been probably the shakier shot, but it wasn’t.
“His second serve especially surprised me, he was going at 160kmh to 165kmh, which never used to be the case.
“His second serve was always a weak spot and he played amazingly.
“He beat Novak in straight sets and he beat me today, he’s in very good form and he’s very dangerous at the moment.”
De Minaur said he felt that too.
His run at the United Cup, which also included a win over American Taylor Fritz, gave him the belief that victories over the likes of Djokovic and Zverev could become a regular occurrence.
“This last week has helped my record against top-10 opponents significantly,” de Minaur said.
“I’ve shown I’ve been able to do it and back it up in two different cities.
Sports opinion delivered daily
“I’m very happy with how 2024 is going and hopefully I can keep it going.”