Misc Tennis

Australian Open 2023 – Alex de Minaur books spot in fourth round

Australian Open 2023 - Alex de Minaur books spot in fourth round

MELBOURNE, Australia — Alex de Minaur equaled his best result at the Australian Open on Saturday, defeating Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi to potentially set up a tantalizing fourth-round clash against 21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.

The crowd favorite and 22nd seed at Melbourne Park struggled with his serve throughout the afternoon but his trademark hustle, speed and return game proved enough to account for the unheralded Bonzi, 7-6(0), 6-2, 6-1, in a little over two hours.

The win sees de Minaur match last year’s fourth round appearance at Melbourne Park. His best performance at a major remains the 2020 US Open, where he reached the quarterfinals.

“I’m very happy, I can’t lie,” de Minaur said after the match. “Honestly, as a kid, this is what you train for. To play on this court, in one of the biggest stages in the world … every time I get out here I’ve got to pinch myself.

“I’m just excited I get another chance to come out here and show what I’m made of.”

De Minaur overcame a slew of missed opportunities to clinch the opening set in a rare to-love tie-breaker. The Australian generated 14 break point chances in the frame but could only capitalize on two, the same amount Bonzi converted from his four.

The service woes continued for both players in the second set. At one stage, 11 consecutive points were won by the returner, as the pair traded breaks of serve.

But from 4-2 up in the second set, de Minaur was able to pull clear, reeling off eight of the next nine games to book his place in the last 16 of his home Slam. His defence and ability to track down balls from all over the court was a feature in the back half of the match, constantly forcing Bonzi to play an extra shot.

De Minaur’s service games will need to improve ahead of his next match. The 23-year-old’s first serve landed just 53% of the time against Bonzi, and when it didn’t, he was winning only 57% of points. Against a more accomplished opponent, that figure would likely be significantly reduced.

Meanwhile, nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in Saturday’s night session, with the winner to face de Minaur in the fourth round. Djokovic has been battling a left hamstring strain this fortnight but enters the match as an overwhelming favourite.

De Minaur has never faced Djokovic in professional competition. He boasts a 2-1 record against Dimitrov, with all meetings coming on hard courts.

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