De Minaur ends ‘Drench Open’ hoodoo to make third round

Ian Chadband |

Patient Alex de Minaur acknowledges his fine win to make the third round of the French Open.
Patient Alex de Minaur acknowledges his fine win to make the third round of the French Open.

Alex de Minaur has made light of more Paris rain trying to dampen his French Open assault, powering past old Spanish clay-court pal Jaume Munar to reach the French Open third round for the first time in eight attempts.

The Australian No.1 was a set up and dominating on Thursday when he was halted in full flow by another of the countless rain interruptions which have inevitably led to the event being nicknamed the ‘Drench Open’.

But he didn’t let the hour’s break affect him as he quickly resumed where he left off, eclipsing the hardened clay-courter with an assured, attacking display that made Munar distinctly irritable, living up to his nickname of ‘Jimbo’ as a kind of Spanish answer to Jimmy Connors.

But while Munar argued with the umpire and got the supervisor called to court to adjudicate over a complaint, de Minaur just got his head down, wouldn’t be distracted and went on to carve out his impressive 7-5 6-1 6-4 win in two hours 11 minutes.

Promising that he couldn’t get too serious about his French Open ambitions until he had finally got past a second round, no wonder de Minaur was left beaming as he departed the court – to a cry of “we love you Alex!” from one among a small, noisy contingent of Australian fans.

For this time, he has made the last-32 in coruscating style, for the loss of just 13 games in two matches following his first-round destruction of American teen Alex Michelsen.

“It feels great. Ultimately, it’s something that I’ve always thought that I was gonna be able to achieve in my career,” said de Minaur of his uncharted territory.

“I thought there’s no reason why I can’t do it. So it’s just good to finally be able to be in the third round and keep on going, because ultimately, my goal is not to make the third round, it’s to go for bigger and better things. 

“And I’m just keeping myself alive and ready for the next round.”

A contest against Munar, a 27-year-old who he once played against him in junior matches in Spain when they were teenagers, always promised to be much more testing, but from the moment he outlasted the Spaniard in a 32-shot rally in the opening game, de Minaur always had his measure.

The pair exchanged breaks liberally in the opening set and de Minaur also missed his chance to serve out for the first set at 5-4 before getting a second chance when Munar double faulted to make it 5-6.

This time, the Australian made no mistake but de Minaur, who’s joked that it always seems to be raining when he’s in Paris, was annoyingly interrupted on his victory charge by the elements after breaking Munar for a 2-1 lead in the second.

When they returned, a rainbow was shining above Roland Garros, with the hope for de Minaur that it was a really good omen as he steamed on to victory, hammering 25 winners while Munar, increasingly struggling with his serve, delivered 12 doubles in all.