Alex de Minaur has won 13 out of 50 matches against the top-10 rivals. The Aussie missed a chance to add a massive scalp to his collection at the 2020 ATP Cup in front of the home fans, falling to world no. 1 Rafael Nadal in three sets.
Two rivals battled in Sydney, and Rafa prevailed 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 after two hours and 13 minutes, propelling Spain into the title clash. De Minaur played well in front of the partisan crowd, beating Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov and gathering a boost ahead of the Nadal clash.
Alex had the upper hand in the opening two sets, failing to seal the deal in straight sets and fading from the court in the decider. They served above 70%. Rafa played better on the first serve, while Alex had the advantage on the second.
Rafael Nadal and Alex de Minaur battled at the 2020 ATP Cup.
The Spaniard suffered two breaks from only three chances offered to the Aussie. Nadal delivered four return games (three in the decider), crossing the finish line first and celebrating the victory for his country.
It was the worst start for world no. 1, who sprayed a forehand error in the encounter's first game and lost serve at 15. Alex never put a foot wrong in front of the home fans. He stayed aggressive and controlled the pace behind the initial shot, taking the opener 6-4 following a forehand down the line winner in the tenth game.
Having to raise his level to stay in touch with an inspired opponent, Rafa dropped six points behind the initial shot in set number two and challenged Alex to repeat those numbers. The youngster could not survive until the tie break, sending a backhand long in game 12 to hand the set to Rafa, who gained a massive boost.
With the drive on his side, Nadal took 14 of the first 15 points in the decider. World no. 1 earned four straight return games to break the rival's resistance and send Spain into the final against Serbia. "In a way, I was a man on a mission against Rafa, but it slipped away.
The feeling was bittersweet, but it also taught me a lot. It showed a different side of my game and a side and the one only a few people expected or thought I had. It was good to prove I'm versatile enough to come out swinging if needed.
Let's say it's been haunting me for a while now. I have tried to leave it in the past, but it was a very tough blow. You do all the preseason and hard work to try and put on the best possible show in front of your home fans. That was very disappointing; obviously, this situation did not help.
The shutdown has been a very tough blow, but I have tried to put it in the past, using it as motivation and finding confidence in how I played," Alex de Minaur said.