Young Australian Alex De Miñaur was among the players to beat two seasons ago, winning three ATP titles and in the top 20 in the later stages of the year. Alex kicked off the 2020 campaign with victories over Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov in the ATP Cup at home in Australia before giving 120% against No.
1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. Alex held the lead in the first two sets and still suffered a heartbreaking 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 loss in two hours and 13 minutes. De Miñaur gained momentum after the epic clash against Great Britain two days before facing Nadal and threw everything he had in his arsenal to force the world's leading player to dig deep into sets one and two.
Both players served over 70%, and Nadal played better in the first serve while Alex had the advantage in the second. The Spaniard suffered two breaks from just three chances offered to the Australian, surrendering four (three in the decider) on the other side to cross the finish line first.
It was the worst start for the no. 1, who added a forehand error in the first game to lose his serve and boost De Miñaur's confidence. Alex was never wrong, staying aggressive and controlling the pace in his games to take the first set 6-4 after a forehand on the winning line in the 10th game.
Having to do his best to keep in touch with an inspired opponent, Rafa gave up six points on serve in set number two and challenged Alex to repeat those numbers. The youngster couldn't survive until the tiebreaker, sending a long setback in game 12 to hand the set over to Rafa, who gained a huge boost.
With momentum on his side, Nadal took 14 of the first 15 points in the deciding set and won four consecutive breaks to seal the deal and send Spain to the final against Serbia.
Nadal on his former coach’s statements
Rafael Nadal, during his speech on Tuesday, elaborated on his former coach’s statements.
The Spaniard stressed the need to build a strong temperament, and explained that setting goals and pursuing them diligently is important to achieve success. “There’s no greater personal satisfaction than going home knowing that you’ve done everything possible to achieve your goals,” Nadal said.
"With effort, dedication and humility you always achieve something, which is to make progress toward your objectives." The 20-time Grand Slam champion also said it was important to keep striving to improve. “Mentally, that really helps you to be alert and active.
I don’t understand life any other way,” Nadal said. "Working and training for the sake of training, without any goal to get better … makes no sense. It’s boring”.