How ‘little brother’ de Minaur became Aussie main man

Ian Chadband |

Alex de Minaur has the respect and admiration of all Aussie players as the leader of their pack.
Alex de Minaur has the respect and admiration of all Aussie players as the leader of their pack.

Jordan Thompson just marvels at how the kid he once thought off as a “little brother” is now the man he looks up to.

Adam Walton thinks of the Sydney contemporary who’s just a couple of months older than him but suddenly stretched away to become the guy who most helps him to become a better person.

And James Duckworth just admits he loves the lad who would pester him politely as a 15-year-old wannabe but who now stands in his way as the most formidable of obstacles in the Wimbledon main draw.

But then it’s fair to say you’ll never hear anything but lavish praise from Australian tennis players about Alex de Minaur, the player who’s graduated from eager wannabe teenager to the mature leader of the Australian tennis pack.

De Minaur Thompson
Jordan Thompson always tells de Minaur he’s now the man he looks up to. (AP PHOTO)

And as he prepares for Tuesday’s clash against Duckworth, the player seven years his senior who he was once desperate to pick up any tips from, don’t think de Minaur is not grateful to those Australian players who helped him on his soaring trajectory.

“I’ve been so incredibly fortunate of how all of the guys have kind of taken me in when I was really young,” de Minaur explained.

“All of them were so nice to me, so receptive. I was this young kid that’s eager to learn and eager to kind of improve and, not only James Duckworth, we’re talking about John Millman, Jordan Thompson, Sam Groth, all these guys just gave me the time of day and allowed me to learn from them and and just improve.

“And it’s been great to improve with them. That’s probably the best way to describe the Aussie culture, bringing each other up. It’s pretty cool.”

It’s part of the culture, he thinks, that has delivered 11 Australian men into the Wimbledon singles main draw. Only France and hosts Britain, with a dozen each, have more.

But nobody doubts who’s leader of the pack. “Alex is a great role model for all the Australians or everyone who plays tennis,” said Walton.

“I think he’s the perfect mould. He does all the right things. Off the court, on the court. I think the positive energy he brings, it’s just impossible to not be a better person when you’re around him. He just brings the best out of everyone.

“And, obviously, his tennis this year, he’s gone into different levels, and he’s a very good contender to win the whole thing here too.”

Thompson, who’s five years de Minaur’s senior, smiled: “Growing up, I was like his older brother, and he always looked up to me – but now I’m looking up to him. And I’ve told him that.

“He’s going incredibly well. He made the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros, and it’s his worst surface. So it just goes to show how hard he works, and how much he’s improving.”

Duckworth, now 32, just smiled: “I love I just love the way he goes about it. He’s super humble guy. Just works extremely hard and is a very good tennis player.

“His game has evolved a lot I think over the last couple of years. He’s worked really hard and I’m super pumped for him. I’d say all of us Aussies really look up to him and he’s a great role model for us, for sure.”


Men’s singles

9-Alex de Minaur v James Duckworth

Chris O’Connell v 13-Taylor Fritz (USA)

Thanasi Kokkinakis v 17-Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

Alexei Popyrin v Thiago Monteiro (BRA)

Adam Walton v Federico Coria (ARG)

Rinky Hijikata v Flavio Cobolli (ITA)

Women’s singles

Ajla Tomljanovic v 13-Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)

Olivia Gadecki v Robin Montgomery (USA)