Alex de Minaur, Australian Open 2019, tennis
Alex de Minaur admits it would be a “dream” to win his first senior title at what is expected to be the last men’s iteration of the Sydney International this week.
The Australian No.1 continued his warm-up for the Australian Open with a hard-earned straight sets win over Dusan Lajovic in his Sydney opener on Monday.
De Minaur was made to work hard by the Serbian world No.45 in both sets before finishing strongly to claim a 6-4 6-3 victory at Ken Rosewall Arena.
The 19-year-old also had to deal with over three hours of rain delays.
“First match of the tournament is always hard work, especially against a high- level opponent like him. He’s had some quality wins and played some exceptional tennis,” de Minaur said.
“It wasn’t easy all day, a lot of waiting around, especially coming in so early and the weather not permitting us to go out and play.
“So I’m happy with how I dealt with the situation and really happy with the win.”
De Minaur, who has risen to world No.29, was a finalist in his home town last year and will aim to go one better after defending champion Daniil Medvedev withdrew on Monday.
Medvedev, who lost to Kei Nishikori in the Brisbane final on Sunday, beat de Minaur in last year’s final and the pair looked destined to meet again in the Sydney quarter-finals this week.
But the Australian will now meet American qualifier Reilly Opelka in the second round on Tuesday before a possible final-eight clash with compatriot Jordan Thompson.
This year’s tournament is likely to be the last in its current format after Tennis Australia announced that the Harbour City had won hosting rights for the inaugural ATP Cup next year.
Greek world No.15 Stefanos Tsitsipas is the favourite to take out the men’s title.
De Minaur is reluctant to get carried away, but said it would be “insane” to claim the final Sydney International title as his first title.
“It would be insane. Honestly it would be like a dream come true, but we are still far away from that. I have my second-round opponent, which is a very tough one,” the Australian said.
“I can’t look too far ahead. (I’m) Struggling just to stay in the present. You can’t look in the future and can’t dwell on the past. It’s all about the present and what you do each day.
“That’s what I’ve got to focus on.”
Another Australian, Matthew Ebden, blew a one-set lead to lose his first-round match to Argentine Guido Andreozzi 6-3 3-6 4-6.