De Minaur versus Nadal: youngster takes on the superstar

FROM THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN, January 18: The young Aussie Alex de Minaur is rising very fast. He has a long way to go, but he is very quick, on the top of the ball, and then he explodes.

He has won seven matches in a row. He lives in Spain, half of the year, when he isn’t on the road. Before, he had to learn how to play. He is 19 years olds and he has watched Rafa Nadal on TV. Now, he can see him a lot in person. He just won Sydney and here at the Australian Open in the second round, he won a five-setter over Henri Laaksonen.  

De Minaur said he has admired the 17-time Grand Slam champ Nadal has admired him for a long time. They will face each other Friday night.

“Well, Rafa is pretty much like the king in Spain. He’s done so much amazing things for the sport,” De Minaur  said. “He’s had that many achievements. It’s pretty incredible. It’s going to be fun for me to get out on court and be able to test where I am. I think this is what you play for: toplay the biggest guys and the best guys at the top of their level on the biggest stages. You just got to go out there, enjoy, just thrive off the atmosphere.”

De Minaur moved to Europe  when he was just 5 year old. His mother grew up in Spain, so when she saw that her son loved tennis, it was a good idea to go there, to learn. That is the same thing in Australia: so many people are hooked on tennis, and there are a lot of fine coaches, so it is fine to split it up, in different counties.  

De Minaur did watch Nadal win the Australian Open, in 2009 — 10 years ago. That has been a long time ago, but it is pretty fresh. At least when they face off.  

“Yeah, well, you watch that many matches of Rafa, he’s won that many Grand Slams. I remember that one, watching it,” he said. “He’s still Rafa. Whenever he steps out on court, he always has that presence. No one can take that away from him. I just got to go out there, try to focus on my side of the court, generally just go out there, have fun, just hopefully take it to him.”