World loses it over ‘breathtaking’ Aussie teen
IF IT wasn't official before it certainly is now - the tennis world is in love with Alex De Minaur.
The 18-year-old Australian may have left the Sydney International without the trophy he so desperately wanted but he'll head to Melbourne for the Australian Open riding a wave of support that's only getting bigger.
De Minaur lost the final of the Sydney tournament to Daniil Medvedev 6-1 4-6 5-7, but he didn't make it easy for the Russian. The young sensation fought back from 0-4 down on Saturday night in a heart-stopping deciding set and saved a match point under immense pressure at Sydney Olympic Park.
But the stubborn Russian qualifier won the mental battle, eventually wearing the local favourite down to prevail in two hours and 12 minutes.
A win in the harbour city would have been a momentous occasion to savour, a first piece of silverware to reward the 18-year-old's breakout fortnight. It would have made him the youngest player to win the Australian Open tune-up tournament in almost two decades, since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt achieved the feat at the same age, but it wasn't to be.
Still, the result didn't dim anyone's appreciation for the guts De Minaur showed to push Medvedev all the way.
Compatriots Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Dylan Alcott tweeted their appreciation of De Minaur's fight and he even wowed former World No. 1 Andy Murray, as well as Japan's Naomi Osaka.
Medvedev was humble in victory, apologising to the Sydney crowd for defeating the local hero and calling De Minaur the "future of tennis".
"First of all guys I want to say sorry. I want to congratulate Alex on an amazing run - he's the future of tennis," Medvedev said to warm applause.
He then had the crowd cracking up with laughter when he thanked his parents for watching on TV before revealing his girlfriend was supposed to join him in Sydney but her visa application had been rejected.
But the goodwill towards the winner was nothing compared to the gushing plaudits for De Minaur. Speaking after the match he was lucky to get a word in given the rousing reception the vocal crowd dished out.
"It was an honour to play this tournament in front of this crowd in my backyard. I couldn't think of a better place to make my first final so thanks a lot guys," De Minaur said.
"You were amazing, I wouldn't be able to do this without you.
"I'd like to congratulate Daniil. You played at an amazing level, you deserved this, good luck for the Aussie Open."
His outstanding effort in the NSW capital follows on from his impressive run at the Brisbane International earlier in the month when he defeated big guns Steve Johnson and Milos Raonic en route to the semi-finals.
The Daily Telegraph reports De Minaur will catch up with NSW Origin coach Brad Fittler next week, the new Blues mentor saying he is "very good to watch" and "a tough bugger".