World number 31 and the most promising Australian youngster Alex de Minaur is back at the Melbourne Park for the December Showdown but only as a spectator, winning the Australian Open Play-off event a year ago to start the amazing journey that almost saw him cracking the Top 30 in 2018. The Sydney native was ranked outside the top-200 when the new season kicked off but he needed no time to show his quality, reaching the semi-final in Brisbane and the final in Sydney before cracking the top-100 in June after losing in the final of Surbiton Challenger.
Together with Denis Shapovalov, Alex is the best-ranked player born in 1999 and the second-youngest in the top-100, winning 28 matches on the ATP level for a breakthrough year that puts him in the perfect position to attack even higher goals in 2019.
De Minaur missed another chance to claim the first ATP title in Washington, losing to Alexander Zverev in straight sets and finishing his season with the runner-up spot at the NextGen Masters where Stefanos Tsitsipas toppled him in four sets.
Preparing for the new season in Melbourne, Alex had a chance to attend the U18 Australian Championships and support another Sydney native Rinky Hijikata who claimed the title after beating the last year's national junior champion Alexander Crnokrak in three sets.
“It’s great to see Rinky playing the way he is, he’s made an unbelievable leap the last year, he’s very professional and you can see the results. It’s great to see a fellow ‘blue wall’ (NSW) member come out and play some great tennis and I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do in the Play-off next week,” de Minaur said. “It’s great to come back here (to December Showdown) and watch the younger players coming up because I was on the same road a few years ago and know what that’s like.”