10:30 AM GMT November 08, 2019
Top-seeded Aussie Alex de Minaur is in a familiar situation on the court this year at the Next Gen ATP Finals, but he’s also enjoying plenty of new experiences away from it.
Last year’s runner-up (l. to Tsitsipas) went undefeated in round-robin action once again and now faces second-seeded American Frances Tiafoe in Friday’s semi-finals. De Minaur also looked forward to Milan for the chance to be around his #NextGenATP peers. He's been mingling with close friends like Tiafoe and also spending time with players he was less familiar with.
“I don't think I’ve ever had much to do with Jannik Sinner. After this week, I’ve been able to get to know him and hit with him,” De Minaur said. “There is a lot more going on at other tournaments, a lot more players. It's just eight of us here, so we're bound to get to know each other a bit better. I enjoy that aspect, for sure.”
De Minaur has won more matches (7) than anyone at this event, which reflects his love of the unique scoring format. The Aussie is typically a fast starter and the shortened-set format rewards coming out firing from the first ball. He also enjoys many of the innovations such as Hawk-Eye Live, the electronic line calling system which debuted at the inaugural event in 2017, and hopes to see them carried over to the ATP Tour.
“There are a lot of different things that I really like,” De Minaur said. “The Hawk-Eye Live [takes] away any sort of problem on the court. You believe Hawk-Eye, so if it's called out, it's out. If it's a close call, they show you the replay. No more troubles. You don't have bad calls.”
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His success this week is also due to his tireless focus on improving his mental toughness. De Minaur has endured several challenging moments and dropped a set in each of his first two matches to Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic and Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. But after losing his momentum, he regrouped to win the remaining sets with a 4-0 or 4-1 scoreline.
The Aussie has displayed his ability to bounce back on several occasions this year. He was two points from losing both sets during the Sydney final, but rallied to defeat Andreas Seppi for his first ATP Tour title. He’s also delivered his best tennis during clutch moments in recent months, winning five of his past six matches that went to a deciding set.
”It's all part of the work I have done with my psychologist. It's about not getting down on yourself,” De Minaur said. “I'm not saying that I don't get angry or frustrated. It's about trying to minimise the time that you’re frustrated.”
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The Aussie used last year’s runner-up finish in Milan as a springboard to his best year on Tour. He arrived this week at a career-high No. 18 in the ATP Rankings after a season in which he claimed his first three ATP Tour titles in Sydney (d. Seppi), Atlanta (d. Fritz) and Zhuhai (d. Mannarino). He further proved his mettle indoors by reaching the final two weeks ago in Basel (l. to Federer).
De Minaur hopes another inspired run here will lead to even greater heights in 2020. But regardless of the end result, he believes playing multiple matches with shortened sets will serve him well leading into next year.
“It helps to constantly stay focussed. Every point counts, so you've got to be on top of things,” De Minaur said. “I can definitely take that onto the Tour. If I manage to do what I've been doing here on the Tour, it will help me win a lot of matches.”