De Minaur exits Australian Open in frustrating straight-sets loss to Sinner

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA</span>
Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA
  • Jannik Sinner wins 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena

  • Alex de Minaur rues failure to convert slew of break points

Even while deflated in defeat, Alex de Minaur tried to maintain his “positive vibes” mantra. It has been one oft-repeated at this tournament, and one he intends to carry with him throughout 2022.

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On Monday, though, he allowed himself a small amount of frustration. The 22-year-old had threatened a deep run into the Australian Open, having made the fourth round for the first time in his burgeoning career. He had dropped only one set on his way there and was confident heading into Rod Laver Arena.

Unfortunately for him Jannik Sinner had other ideas, which materialised in some big hitting and, eventually, a 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-4 victory for the rising Italian star.

At times De Minaur was his own worst enemy, creating eight break points but only converting one.

“I think second set I had break points first game of the second set, and I didn’t convert kind of again,” he said. “So I think after that point I was maybe 0-6 on break points. And look, he started to lift his level as the court kind of had shade. There was no more sun, so he was able to really hit the ball through the court a lot more.

“We all know the amazing firepower he has, so I felt like I played a loose game to get broken … he got the early break and kind of was able to run away. I still had a lot of chances on his service games. It just didn’t feel like it was coming.”

Sinner is unbeaten in 2022, having emerged flawlessly from the ATP Cup and dropped only one set en route to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. The 20-year-old world No 10 will next play either fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or American Taylor Fritz with an eye to a maiden grand slam semi-final appearance.

De Minaur will take his “bittersweet ending” to his tournament and take learnings into the rest of the year. That begins next month at the Rotterdam Open, meaning he will likely return to his home away from home in Alicante, Spain, before a possible return to Australia in March for the Davis Cup qualifying round against Hungary.

“It’s been a good start to the season bringing in some good momentum and I came up short today but I’m happy with where my level is going,” De Minaur said. “It’s definitely a big improvement from last year and I’m excited for what’s to come.

“I knew I’d put in the work to really come out here and perform, so the goals kind of stay the same. I still want to keep improving, keep striving to get the most out of myself. That’s never going to change. That’s just the person I am, and in a way it’s how I’ve gotten to where I have gotten, just by constantly pushing myself.

“So we’ll reflect on what I did well, what I can still improve, and we go again until the next tournament … it’s a long year, but my hopes and goals are to keep at least my attitude and my mindset throughout the whole year, or try to. It’s easier said than done, but that’s the focus.”

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