‘Devastated’ de Minaur could face Olympic misery too

Ian Chadband |

An injured Alex de Minaur has withdrawn from his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.
An injured Alex de Minaur has withdrawn from his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.

Devastated Alex de Minaur faces the prospect of more tennis heartbreak, with his Olympic dream now set to be dashed by the ‘freak’ hip injury that’s ended his Wimbledon hopes.

The world No.9, Australia’s best men’s hope since Nick Kyrgios reached the final in 2022, withdrew crestfallen, hours before the biggest match of his career on Wednesday, a maiden SW19 quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.

Australia’s No.1 had to admit defeat to the painful injury which he’s been told could sideline him for between three to six weeks, prompting a deluge of sympathy from his supporters, including Ash Barty, who said she was “broken” by the news.

It also gave Djokovic, who’s recovering from knee surgery just over four weeks ago, a clear run into Friday’s semi-finals – equalling Roger Federer’s record of 13 last-four appearances – where he’ll face Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who beat Taylor Fritz 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 3-6 6-1 in Wednesday’s other quarter.

His misfortune means de Minaur’s dream of playing at the Olympics for the first time, following his misery at missing Tokyo at the last minute in 2021 after contracting COVID-19, could well be dashed too.

De Minaur suffered his injury cruelly in the dying moments of his fourth-round match against Arthur Fils on Monday, and despite hoping he’d wake up with a “miracle” cure, he had to pull out after a painful hit with his Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt on the practice courts.

De Minaur
Alex de Minaur’s muted reaction after the victory over Arthur Fils was that of a resigned figure. (AP PHOTO)

De Minaur described the injury as “a little tear of the fibre cartilage that connects to the adductor”, suggesting it was a “unique” ailment there had been very little research about.

“I felt a loud crack during the last three points of my match against Fils, and a scan yesterday confirmed the injury and that I was at high risk of making it worse if I was to step on court.

“They haven’t been able to give me a definite recovery time because it’s such a unique injury. Right now, it could be anywhere from three-to-six weeks out, it just depends how quickly my body heals.

“One stretch, one slide or one anything could make this injury go from three to six weeks out to four months, so it was too much to risk.”

Asked what he had been through physically and emotionally, de Minaur said: “It’s devastating. No way to beat around the bush, I haven’t really been able to enjoy what I’ve achieved this week because I knew as soon as I felt that pop, something bad had happened.

“I have been struggling to sleep the last couple of days. I feel it walking, just hoping I would wake up and feel it a little bit less, or that I could at least go on court.

“But I think it’s almost disrespectful for me not to go on the court close to 100 per cent against someone like Novak.

“It’s more just hope, wait and see. I’m hoping the pain goes down with a bit of rest.”

But his race to get to the Paris Games – the tennis programme starts in 17 days time – look likely to be a losing one, with de Minaur is due to play both singles and doubles, alongside Alexei Popyrin, Djokovic’s third-round victim here.

djokovic
Novak Djokovic is into a record-equalling 13th Wimbledon semi-final with his walkover. (AP PHOTO)

He had seemed to be having an armchair ride towards the meeting with Djokovic – until the fateful final moments against Frenchman Fils.

Stretching to make the winning volley in a fine win over Fils, his muted immediate post-match celebration made it obvious how bad it was, but the ‘pop’ had actually occurred on the first match point two points earlier.

“What hurts so much more is knowing I’m so close, closer than ever before,” said the 25-year-old, who will be in the world’s top-six for the first time next week.

AAP