Alex de Minaur lays Wimbledon ghosts to rest to reach last eight for first time

Estimated read time 4 min read

The “Demon” has slain his Wimbledon demon, to reach the last eight of the grasscourt grand slam for the first time.

Two years after blowing a two-set lead and two match points when on the brink of reaching the quarter-finals, Alex de Minaur held his nerve as a horror repeat threatened against Arthur Fils.

De Minaur put his fans on No 1 Court and late night television viewers back home through the wringer as he dropped the third set, but showed Aussie grit to take the fourth on his second match point.

His 6-2 6-4 4-6 6-3 win, in just shy of three hours, booked a last eight meeting with Novak Djokovic or Holger Rune, who were playing later on Monday local time.

The concern now is whether he will be fully fit for that challenge having appeared to pull up lame as he played an angled stop volley to win the match, but he said on court: “I’ll be all right. I’ll find a way.

“I’m super proud of myself to be in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon,” added the ninth-seeded Australian. “You can count on me going out there, trying my hardest and playing my heart out.”

Supporters of Alex de Minaur at Wimbledon.View image in fullscreen

Asked what pleased him most about his performance the 25-year-old said: “Getting over the finish line, a great job mentally to get through.”

The quarter-final will be only the third in grand slams of de Minaur’s career, but also his second in succession after reaching the same stage at Roland Garros last month.

The Australian No 1 looked set to continue his sprint through the Wimbledon field when he raced to a two-set lead in barely an hour, and followed up with an early break in the third.

But from 4-2 up the Sydneysider tightened up and lost four successive games, and the set.

Inevitably the nightmare of 2022 resurfaced. Back then, de Minaur blew a two-set lead against another unseeded player, Chilean Cristian Garin, and two match points in the fifth.

This time it was different.

In the fourth set de Minaur broke immediately, but then went 0-40 down serving at 2-1. Digging deep and keeping calm he reeled off five successive points to preserve his precious advantage, then broke again to lead 4-1.

It was the first of five successive breaks of serve, including when de Minaur served for the match at 5-2, but his French opponent could not hold serve either.

“I definitely made it a lot harder than I should have, I couldn’t hold my serve (at the end), but I backed my returns,” said de Minaur.

Fils had upset de Minaur earlier this year on the red clay of Barcelona, winning 7-5 6-2 in 95 minutes, but the green grass of Wimbledon was a different matter.

De Minaur came out aggressively, pouncing on a short return to set up a three break points in the opening game. Under pressure his 20-year-old opponent, betraying a few nerves, double-faulted.

A smart line-call challenge at deuce in the third game led to another beak and within a quarter-hour it was 4-0 to de Minaur, who had won 18 of the opening 22 points.

Fils finally got on the scoreboard when he held his serve at the third attempt. This was enthusiastically cheered by a No.1 showcourt crowd who were hoping to see a contest.

But de Minaur held firm to take the set in 29 minutes.

Fils had shown his mettle with a 131mph second serve ace at 2-5, and backed this up by taking a 3-0 second set lead as de Minaur’s game dipped. But the Australian bounced back, taking five successive games to establish a stranglehold on the set, before serving out.

An early break in the third put de Minaur in the box seat, but serving at 4-3 it seemed the pressure pendulum had swung back on him and Fils took advantage. Finally the crowd had a contest. To de Minaur’s huge relief, he won it.


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