Australian tennis sensation Alex de Minaur (nicknamed “The Demon” on the tennis circuit) has at 19 years old become the youngest man to win the Sydney International since Lleyton Hewitt in 2000 (at 18) and 2001 (19, but younger than de Minaur thanks to his birthday being 7 days later). He will be ranked 27th seed at the Australian Open, which kicks off today.
The world number 29 played two matches in one day to take out his first ATP title, after rain washed out his scheduled semi-final on Friday night. De Minaur beat Frenchman Giles Simon 6-3 6-2 on Saturday afternoon in an hour and a half but faced a stiffer challenge against Italian Andreas Seppi 6 hours later.
The Australian again won in straight sets but took more than two hours, with both sets in the 7-5 7-6 (7-5) match going down to the wire. Hewitt was in de Minaur’s players box, as he often is, to watch his young protégée claim his maiden title. In addition to being the youngest Sydney winner since Hewitt in 2001, de Minaur is the first Australian champion since Bernard Tomic in 2013.
In total de Minaur spent more than 3 and a half hours on court, with the temperature over 30 degrees for much of the day. While the win will be a welcome confidence booster for Australia’s highest ranked male player, he only had one day to recover before his Australian Open campaign begins today.
De Minaur is an outsider at his home slam, with both Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Roger Federer lurking in his half of the draw. Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic (who have won 12 of the last 13 Australian Opens between them) will all be looking to add another major to their collections.
Djokovic and Federer are both heavily favoured, and if either wins they will become the outright most successful Australian Open player (they are level on 6 wins each, along with Roy Emerson). Federer is looking to extend his lead as the most successful male tennis player of all time, with Nadal (currently second) chasing him and Djokovic potentially moving to outright third if he wins another slam.