Despite a substantial verbal war between the Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Bernard Tomic that raged on in the first week of the Australian Open, it was a summer to remember for the Aussie men's squad.
The 19-year-old Alex de Minaur won the first ATP title at home in Sydney, beating five rivals in straight sets to become the youngest champion there since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt almost 20 years ago! Alex went on to Melbourne where he scored two wins, losing to Rafael Nadal in straight sets after a decent resistance in the third set, preparing himself to lead Australia against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide on Friday and Saturday.
In the second rubber, De Minaur defeated Mirza Basic to send Australia further in front in an overall 4-0 triumph that secured the place at Davis Cup finals for one of the greatest tennis nations. Besides de Minaur, his coeval Alexei Popyrin was on fire at the Australian Open as well, advancing into the third round where he stayed on the court for almost four hours in a five-setter lost to Lucas Pouille who reached the semi-final after that.
Popyrin got the opportunity to play for Australia against Bosnia and Herzegovina as the 110th player in the yellow and green jersey, hoping to continue his progress in 2019 and play more ATP 250 tournaments. The Davis cup captain Lleyton Hewitt praised another player who had a great run in January, with Alex Bolt who competed in the third round of the Australian Open despite the fact he had no Grand Slam win before this year.
Alex showed a fantastic fighting spirit in the second round against Gilles Simon when he saved four match points, having nothing left in the tank for Alexander Zverev clash but earning enough points and money for the best possible start of the year that should provide him a boost for the upcoming months as well.
"I really tried to take Alex de Minaur under my wing about three years ago," Hewitt told. "I saw something special in Alex and for me, it's more about trying to mentor him as much as possible.
We tried to fast-track him by bringing him into the Davis Cup as an orange boy two or three times in a row and he just loved being on the court alongside other players. For him, I think he really grew, he understood how to play the game of tennis.
The best thing is he just wants to go out there and compete. For us to have someone like Alex Bolt, he's from South Australia and he comes from Murray Bridge and he's such a great kid. He comes out and does absolutely everything for all the other players out here and he was very close to making this team as well.
He can see that opportunity to crack into the top 100 and that's got to be the next goal for him."