‘Bring the noise’: De Minaur adds Alcaraz to list of big scalps but injury casts doubt over fellow Aussie for Open


Alex de Minaur is urging to home fans to “bring the noise” after adding Spanish wunderkind Carlos Alcaraz to his growing list of prized pre-Australian scalps.

A near-capacity crowd almost raised the roof at Rod Laver Arena while celebrating de Minaur’s electrifying exhibition win over the world No.2 and reigning Wimbledon champion on Wednesday night.

While de Minaur won’t receive any rankings points for the 6-4 5-7 10-3 victory in a thrilling match tiebreaker, Australia’s great Open hope will have gained immeasurable confidence after taking down another of tennis’s true giants.

“Yeah, look, I’m extremely happy. My level is in a good spot coming into Melbourne,” de Minaur said after following up victories last week over 10-time Melbourne Park champion Novak Djokovic and world No.6 Alexander Zverev with a first-time defeat of Alcaraz, the Open’s second seed.

“I’ve had a good 2024. It’s been very good to me, so hopefully I can keep it going.”

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De Minaur has now notched nine wins over top-10 rivals in the past 12 months and will head to the Open dreaming big ahead of the season’s first grand slam starting on Sunday.

“I heard a a pretty good quote: ‘How big would you dream if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ So that’s kind of been the motto,” the 24-year-old said.

Alex de Minaur. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

‘”I’m pushing muself every day and hopefully the sky’s the limit.”

The fan favourite and first Australian since his idol Lleyton Hewitt in 2006 to crack the world’s top 10 is hoping the home fans can energise him at the Open in the same way they helped his now-Davis Cup captain to the 2005 final in Melbourne.

“I mean, the louder, the better,” he said.

“I wanna feel all the energy. I’m doing my best for you guys every time and, yeah, let’s bring the noise.”

Wednesday night’s match may have been for charity but the fist-pumping, cursing and intensity from both combatants suggested neither of the two fierce competitors wanted to lose.

Playing is first match of the summer, Alcaraz could have been forgiven for calling an early night after trailing by a set and 4-1.

Instead he raised his game to break de Minaur twice to snatch the second set and force the match tiebreaker. 

De Minaur, too, could have easily rolled over after suffering the disappointment of blowing a second-set match point.

Instead, he struck back to seal victory with the point of the match with a curling top-spin lob that Alcaraz could barely get a touch to.

A high quality tune-up for two of the game’s brightest young talents.@alexdeminaur defeats @carlosalcaraz 6-4 5-7 [10-3] in their exhibition match-up.

More of this please and thank-you!#AusOpen#AO2024 pic.twitter.com/RfGj7RXSAR

— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 10, 2024

Despite the defeat, 20-year-old Alcaraz said the exhibition outing offered him the perfect platform to launch his Open assault on Sunday.

“There’s not a better way to, let’s say, warm up or get ready than playing against against Alex in the this match,” he said. “I was on course, so I think I’m getting ready.”

Giant-slaying Jordan Thompson’s hopes of competing in the Australian Open are in doubt after he hobbled through a second-round loss to Italian Lorenzo Musetti at the Adelaide International.

Thompson, who captured the nation’s imagination last week by sensationally saving three match points to stun the great Rafael Nadal in Brisbane, aggravated an upper left leg injury in his 6-4 6-1 defeat to fourth seed Musetti on Wednesday.

After not winning a point on either Musetti’s first or second serves in the opening set, Thompson took a medical time-out before becoming further incapacitated in the second set.

Musetti’s quarter-final opponent will be eighth seed Alexander Bublik, who mowed down Briton Daniel Evans 4-6 6-2 6-1.

It was a mixed Wednesday at Memorial Drive for the Aussies, with Sydney wildcard Christopher O’Connell marching into the quarter-finals, but South Australian Alex Bolt’s dreams of a home fairytale denied by top seed Tommy Paul.

O’Connell hardly broke sweat in trouncing Alexander Shevchenko 6-3 6-1 to book a date with third seed Sebastian Korda in the final eight.

The Australian, who temporarily retired from the sport to clean boats in 2018 following a spate of injuries, whizzed 12 aces past his Russian opponent and didn’t face a break point.

Bolt, a quarter-finalist at Adelaide in 2020 and cheered on by a parochial home crowd, was unable to follow O’Connell’s lead, thoroughly outclassed by world No.13 Paul 6-3 6-2.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better match,” said Paul, who will play Britain’s Jack Draper for a berth in the semi-finals.

“I thought I played a really clean match. I’m really excited to get the season started. I’m excited to be back out here.”

Draper, who beat Paul in last year’s Adelaide International, advanced after surviving a drama-filled 5-7 7-6 (11-9) 7-6 (9-7) marathon against Serb Miomir Kecmanovic.

The Brit saved two match points in the second set before overcoming a 2-5 deficit in the third-set tiebreak to prevail in three hours, 39 minutes.

Never back down, never what? @jordanthommmo2 ????????????#AdelaideTennis pic.twitter.com/lQ8nXJ0Vyr

— Adelaide International (@AdelaideTennis) January 10, 2024

Play was halted for several minutes during the deciding set when Kecmanovic refused to play until a supervisor was called out.

He was irate at being denied a medical time-out while also being on the wrong end of a controversial call, with the umpire ruling a ball that got stuck in the net tape in Draper’s favour to put the Englishman up 6-5.

Earlier, second seed Nicolas Jarry saved a match point in his tense 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 victory over Italian Matteo Arnaldi.

Jarry, who also came back from match points down against the same opponent last season in Beijing, fell behind 6-7 in the breaker with two Arnaldi serves to come, before the big Chilean rattled off the next three points and maintained that high level in the third.

Korda advanced with a hard-fought 6-4 7-6 (12-10) win against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.

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