10:04 AM GMT October 15, 2019
Alex de Minaur is coming back to the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 20-year-old Australian finished as runner-up last year in Milan. Here are five things to know about the three-time ATP Tour titlist.
1. He is perfect in title matches this season.
De Minaur is a perfect 3-0 in ATP Tour title matches this season. He started the year by winning his home tournament, the Sydney International, and becoming the youngest Sydney champion since 19-year-old countryman Lleyton Hewitt in 2001.
De Minaur also won two more hard-court titles, never facing a break point at the BB&T Atlanta Open and fighting past former World No. 1 Andy Murray en route to the Huajin Securities Zhuhai Championships crown last month.
De Minaur's unblemished season in finals has come after he had rough luck during the same stage in 2018. The Aussie fell in finals in Sydney, at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., and at last year's Next Gen ATP Finals.
Watch: De Minaur's Home Visit In Sydney
2. He talks with his psychologist every day.
De Minaur was an unknown commodity last year during his breakout season that saw him climb 177 spots, from No. 208 to No. 31 in the ATP Rankings.
This year, however, the 20-year-old has felt pressure to back up his season and continue to climb the ATP Rankings. “I've got a lot more expectations on myself,” he said.
You wouldn't know it, though, judging by his improved results. The Aussie has worked with a Spanish psychologist for the past few years, and this year they've begun talking daily. De Minaur credits their work for his continued progress.
“I feel like the head, the mind is one of the most important things out there. I train my mind as much as I do on the tennis court or as much as I do fitness,” De Minaur said.
“Tennis is such a tough sport as it is, it's only you out there on court, so you've got to deal with a lot of different pressures and expectations and when things aren't going well. So to have someone like [him] to be on my team and be able to clear my mind and make me stronger mentally, I think it's been the biggest change for me. That's the way I've been progressing, thanks to all the work I've done with him.”
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3. He learned how to drive in the off-season.
Like most players, De Minaur put in his fair share of fitness and tennis during the off-season ahead of 2019. But he also checked off a bucket list item: He learned how to drive.
“I was fortunate enough to have a week and a half off, and I put all that time and effort into getting any driver's license in Spain. So it was a productive week and a half,” said De Minaur, who trains in Alicante, Spain. “I just had to pass my theory and pass the driving test, and it was all good.”
It's not all open highways for De Minaur, though, who, as of January was still without his Australian driver's license. “Here in Australia it takes a bit longer than in Spain,” he said.
Watch Uncovered: Millman Investigates De Minaur's Driving Skills & Dancing Moves
4. He could be near Top 15, Top 10 of ATP Rankings.
De Minaur is at a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 24, already seven spots higher than where he ended last season (No. 31). But the 20-year-old could be even higher had he not been injured during the middle of 2019.
A hip injury kept De Minaur out of the Miami Open presented by Itau and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and hindered his level. From the end of February to mid-May, De Minaur endured a five-match losing streak. Now, though, he has a chance to end the season inside the Top 20.
“Can't dwell on the past. It's about keep moving on and on to the next week. So [I'm] very happy with the progress we have made,” he said.
5. He's making a return trip to Milan.
De Minaur won his group and rode into the Next Gen ATP Finals title match a perfect 4-0 before falling to Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final 2-4, 4-1, 4-3(3), 4-3(3).
The 21-and-under event has propelled De Minaur, along with some of his 2018 #NextGenATP rivals, including Russian Andrey Rublev, who beat Roger Federer in Cincinnati, and American Taylor Fritz, who won his maiden ATP Tour title at the Nature Valley International in June.
Watch: Learn How To Defend Like De Minaur