Inspired by Lleyton Hewitt and the Davis Cup team, budding young Australian tennis ace Alex De Minaur has made a dream run to the US Open junior boys’ semi-finals.
The 16-year-old qualifier upset American second seed Michael Mmoh 1-6 6-3 6-4 on Friday to set up a last-four showdown with fifth seed Tommy Paul, another rising US star who made the men’s main draw at Flushing Meadows.
“This is amazing. I never would have thought at the start of the week that this would be happening,” De Minaur said.
De Minaur is following in the footsteps of countryman Omar Jasika, who won the US Open junior title as an unseeded 16-year-old last year.
“I’m playing great tennis and it is possible to end up winning, but I want to focus on my next match and how I play,” he said.
“The most important thing is to play my game.”
Unlike the left-handed Jasika, who models his game on Rafael Nadal, De Minaur is a stylish aggressor in the Roger Federer mould.
Not that he doesn’t have any Spanish connections.
Far from it, in fact.
Di Minaur’s Spanish waitress mother and Uruguyan father ran an Italian restaurant on Sydney’s George Street for more than 20 years.
The family lived in Spain while De Minaur was five until 13 and just returned to Alicante so his father could run a couple of car washes after spending a further three years in Sydney.
Di Minaur, though, still calls Australia home and is thrilled to be travelling with the junior Australian team to Glasgow next week to support Hewitt and company as they take on Great Britain in the Davis Cup semi-finals.
“It’s going to be a really nice experience,” De Minaur said.
“I think we’re going to hit with the guys when they’re getting ready for the tie.
“I prefer Lleyton to Rafa but my all-time favourite is Federer. He’s just got the most class in the game,” he said.
“I’ve always aspired to be like him. At the same time, I’ve aspired to have the fight that Lleyton has.”