Alex de Minaur has reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in his career after defeating plucky Spaniard Pablo Andujar in straight sets.
- De Minaur is the last Australian in the men’s draw
- He will play Jannik Sinner in the fourth round
- De Minaur will equal his best performance at a major if he reaches the quarter-finals
With Rod Laver watching on inside the stadium named in his honour, de Minaur was victorious 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in just over two hours.
The 22-year-old is the last Australian in the men’s draw following Chris O’Connell’s defeat to American Maxime Cressy earlier on Saturday.
De Minaur — Australia’s highest-ranked male at 42 in the world — will face 11th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner in the last 16.
Sinner won his third-round match against Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 6-1.
A fourth-round win over the talented Sinner would see de Minaur equal his best performance at a major. He reached the US Open quarter-finals in 2020.
Reaching the fourth round will give de Minaur’s confidence a massive boost after a challenging 2021 season, which was disrupted by a positive COVID-19 test that forced him to miss the Tokyo Olympics.
His preparation for this year’s season-opening major included a win over Wimbledon finalist and world number seven, Matteo Berrettini, at the ATP Cup, while he did not encounter much trouble in his first two matches at Melbourne Park.
«I’m happy with where my level is at, so I’m just at the moment taking care of business,» de Minaur said at his post-match media conference.
«We’re not done, but what I’m most proud of myself was maybe I didn’t play my best level throughout the three matches, but I was solid and I got the win, and I didn’t spend eight hours on court.
«I went out there, did what I needed to do [with] great attitude, positive vibes, and [I] got the job done.»
Saturday night’s victory featured all the hallmarks of a typical de Minaur effort. There was ‘hustle’ at the baseline, desperation to chase down every shot possible and his knack for turning defence into attack when opportunities arose.
There was no shortage of lengthy rallies, while de Minaur dominated the winners tally with 34 for the match.
The only previous meeting between de Minaur and Andujar was back in 2018 on clay at the challenger level when the Australian was still a teenager.
The vastly experienced Andujar — who turns 36 on Sunday — won in straight sets on that occasion, but much has changed for de Minaur since, highlighted by his 2020 US Open quarter-final appearance and a career-high ranking of 15 in June last year.
De Minaur traded service breaks with Andujar to open the match, before gaining the upper hand in the seventh game.
With Andujar serving at 40-30, de Minaur reeled off three straight points to break his opponent, the effort receiving the seal of approval from his player’s box, with Lleyton Hewitt and Tony Roche watching on.
Andujar coolly saved a set point on his serve in the ninth game, but de Minaur converted when the opportunity came around a second time at 5-4.
An early break helped de Minaur establish the pace in the second set. He had a set point on Andujar’s serve at 5-3, which was saved, but he completed the job in the following game.
A double break in the third set helped de Minaur serve for the match at 5-2. Nerves did not prove to be an issue and he sealed the win much to the delight of the vocal home crowd.