MELBOURNE, Australia — Alex de Minaur‘s crushing defeat on Monday evening to 21-time Slam champion Novak Djokovic marked the end of the road for the Australian contingent at this year’s Australian Open.
Once again it’s time to rate the performances of the locals. For this excercise, we are only considering singles, not doubles. So, taking into account experience, expectation, opposition and of course performance, it’s time to grade them.
He’s becoming a real Australian Open specialist. Alexei Popyrin wowed the crowds at Melbourne Park with his run to the last 32, highlighted by the defeat of American eighth-seed Taylor Fritz. Popyrin is the only Aussie man to defeat a top 10 seed at the Australian Open in the last 18 years; and he’s now done it twice! The epic match against Fritz, as well as his first-round match against Chun-Hsin Tseng, which also went five sets, may have taken it’s toll, as he struggled to fire against Ben Shelton in the next round. But with Shelton now in the quarterfinals of the tournament, that result is looking very respectable for Popyrin.
Alex de Minaur
Defeated by Novak Djokovic (4th seed) in 4th round
This year’s Australian Open campaign was very similar to last year’s for de Minaur, who breezed through his opening three matches before being totally outclassed in the fourth-round, albeit by the nine-time champion of the tournament. For that reason, he has to be graded lower than in 2022, where he received an A.
Once again, de Minaur will depart Melbourne Park with plenty to work on. His serving continues to be a real weakness of his game, and Djokovic exploited it with ease. Through the tournament, de Minaur was only able to land his first serve 57% of the time. The 23-year-old should also spend time practising his overhead smashes, which gave him grief against both Djokovic and Benjamin Bonzi in the third round.
It was the match of the tournament and one of the most remarkable in Slam history. The five hour, 45 minute slug fest between Thanasi Kokkinakis and Andy Murray will live long in the memory banks, particularly for the Aussie, who came up agonisingly short. Kokkinakis lost the deciding set 7-5 but earned many admirers with his gutsy effort against the three-time major winner. Earlier in the…