Armed with allies, de Minaur takes aim at Djokovic

Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, January 21, 2023

Alex de Minaur will turn to crowdsourcing in his debut fight against Novak Djokovic.

The last Australian left in Melbourne, de Minaur beat Benjamin Bonzi 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-1 to advance to the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second consecutive year.

Read more: Unusual Suspects in Oz

The daring de Minaur will attempt the near-impossible – defeating legendary champions Rafael Nadal and Djokovic in the same month – when they face off in the quarter-finals for the first time.

De Minaur, the No. 22 seed who knocked out Nadal in the United Cup game earlier this month, will walk the Rod Laver Arena armed with allies: rabid Australian fans eager to see how their Davis Cup hero handles disappointment.

De Minor’s plan for the game is simple: turn this match into a practice session to test the 35-year-old Serb’s naughty hamstrings and ride the adrenaline that Australian fans can deliver with their energetic support.

“Look, it’s no secret that I love playing here in the backyard. I think the Australian public is amazing,” de Minor said. “They have always supported me. So I will always treasure it…

“I think the end goal is that wherever I play, whether it’s court 27 in some random place, I will be just as hard to beat as I am here on center court.

“Now, I think the difference is that the opponents have to play not only against me, but also against me and the whole crowd. Right? Maybe that’s the difference.”

Joker vs Demon sounds like something like WrestleMania. In fact, court coverage can be the key point between the two best players in the game. The question is, can the svelte Aussie stand up to Djokovic’s harder punches and his all-court tennis prowess in a tournament he dominates?

Djokovic advanced to the fourth round with a 24-match winning streak on Australian soil and a 36-match winning streak.

In pursuit of a record-breaking 22nd Grand Slam, Djokovic has received a rousing reception from the fans (barring his verbal altercation with a drunken “Where’s Waldo” team), but he knows he could very well face a green-and-gold wall of sound against a fast De Minor.

“I try to show that in every place I go out on the court,” de Minor said. “You know, the goal is to go deep wherever I go. I mean this is the end goal.

“You know, I am sure that I will achieve this. It took time, but I feel very good, satisfied with where I am, where I am progressing, and ultimately I am going to continue to improve and reach this goal.”

Photo: Darrian Trainor/Getty Images

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