Alex de Minaur has made an impressive start to the season at the United Cup. The Aussie lost a tight encounter against Cameron Norrie before ousting Taylor Fritz and world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Standing on the verge of top-10, de Minaur is Australia's biggest hope at the upcoming Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal praised the Aussie and his improvements, making him a contender for notable titles this year. De Minaur needed an hour and 29 minutes to dismiss Fritz 6-4, 6-2 after a rock-solid performance. Taylor fired ten aces, but it was not enough to keep him safe.
The Aussie defended three break points and stole the rival's serve three times from seven opportunities, which was enough to control the scoreboard. Alex faced world no. 1 Novak Djokovic in the quarter-final and ousted the world's best player 6-4, 6-4 after another reliable performance.
Djokovic struggled with his right hand and failed to match the rival's pace. De Minaur did everything right in his games, never facing a break point and stealing Djokovic's serve once in each set to emerge at the top and celebrate a career-best victory.
They served well early on, and Novak started to feel the pain in the middle of the set. The Serb squandered a 40-15 lead in the seventh game and offered the Aussie two break points. Novak saved them with winners and held, remaining on the positive side.
Alex pushed strong on the return again at 4-4, earning three break chances after Novak's loose forehand.
Rafael Nadal said nice words about Alex de Minaur.
The Aussie seized the second after Djokovic's loose forehand, moving 5-4 in front and serving for the set.
De Minaur held at 15, wrapping up the first part of the duel in 49 minutes and hoping for more in set number two. Novak followed the rival's pace in the first part of the second set before experiencing another troubled game at 3-3.
Djokovic wasted two game points and lost serve after a costly double fault, sealing his fate in this one. Alex moved 5-3 ahead with a hold at love and earned three match points at 5-4 with a forehand down the line winner. Novak climbed back to deuce, saving three match points before Alex earned the fourth.
The Aussie converted it after the Serb's backhand error, celebrating his career-best victory. "Alex de Minaur is on the verge of top-10, and he has the level to chase big titles. He has improved significantly over the last few years, developing weapons and creating more damage. Alex is Australia's biggest hope at the Australian Open," Rafael Nadal said.