Alex de Minaur banishes Australian woes with easy French Open win

Estimated read time 5 min read

Alex de Minaur knows better than anyone that he has underachieved at Roland Garros, having yet to pass the second round in seven previous visits. But there has been an air of confidence and belief about him ever since he arrived in Paris this year that hints at better.

After a wait of five hours on Tuesday due to an irritating drizzle that refused to go away until mid-afternoon, the 25-year-old cruised past American teenager Alex Michelsen 6-1, 6-0, 6-2 in a match that was every bit as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Despite the heaviness of the conditions, with rain still coming down for much of the match, De Minaur looked good.

“There’s not too many to go from, so I’ll take it,” he said, with a laugh, when asked if it was his best ever win here. ”Looking at the scores and everything, yeah, probably is. But I don’t have too many to go from.”

Three wins in 10 previous matches here is no return for a player of De Minaur’s calibre but the Australian’s confidence is based on results. He has enjoyed a far-better clay court season this year, starting with a run to the quarter-finals at the Monte Carlo Masters. He beat Rafael Nadal in Barcelona on the Spaniard’s return to the Tour, and though he lost to Nadal in a Madrid cauldron the following week, he bounced back with a couple of good wins in Rome. De Minaur seems in a positive, optimistic mood.

“I’m a completely different player than previous years on the surface,” he said. “I feel comfortable. I feel capable. I’m going to do my very best because ultimately my goals are, at the slams, to go deep at the slams.

“Saying that, I am quite conscious that I’m yet to pass the second round here, so we’ll start with that one first. Then we can move forward.”

If hard courts, as they have at the Australian Open where he reached the fourth round this year, are his most successful surface, there is no obvious reason why clay should not be a strong one too. A supreme mover, De Minaur can run down almost anything, he’s mentally strong and few players would be happy to see him across the other side of the net. He will play Spain’s Jaume Munar, whom he leads 2-0 including a win on clay in Madrid three years ago, for a place in the third round for the first time.

“I tackle this like any other week,” De Minaur said. “I go out there, I’ve got my expectations, I try to do my best. I know it’s a little bit tougher, but at the same time I enjoy it. I enjoy a challenge, and why not go deep here? It would be quite a statement, I think.”

Alex Michelsen after missing a shot against Australia’s Alex De Minaur.View image in fullscreen

De Minaur’s victory was also a timely and welcome boon for the Australian continent, who until that point had seen all six of their players go out. As the clear leader of the pack, a role he relishes and is rightly proud of, De Minaur is used to playing from the front and sometimes on his own. But while the numbers here have not been good in terms of wins, he is choosing to emphasise the fact that there were nine Australian men in the main draw.

skip past newsletter promotion

“We’re out here, it’s probably not really our comfort zone here on the clay,” De Minaur said. “There’s no secret about this, but here we are putting our best foot forward. I can guarantee all these Aussies are going to be doing a lot of damage on the grass as well.

“It’s ultimately a strength in numbers. It’s great to have that camaraderie, because ultimately, maybe not myself, but most of these guys are so far away from home for such a long part of the year. So the fact that we can create a little bit of a shelter, a home, a good environment abroad, I think has helped a lot for the success and all these guys getting better and better. I think it’s just the beginning.”

The weather for De Minaur’s second-round match looks set to be similar to Tuesday’s conditions, another test of his patience and acceptance, tools required for success on clay even more than on other surfaces.

“It’s very easy to start complaining about the weather, the conditions, everything, but if you start down that rabbit hole, then you can probably guarantee that you’re not going to play a good level match,” De Minaur said. “So you’ve got to take it lightly. You’ve got to see the bright side of it. Even though it’s a little bit fake it until you make it, right? I was telling myself walking into the match that I love these types of conditions, you know, that I wish every day was like this.”


You May Also Like

More From Author