Alex de Minaur has powered through a brutal contest to march into the third round of the Australian Open with a victory over plucky Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
The hometown favourite overcame his stubborn opponent to win 7-6(3) 4-6 6-4 6-1 in front of a boisterous crowd at John Cain Arena.
De Minaur made a tentative start with a number of unforced errors robbing him of any rhythm with the veteran forcing the Aussie to work through a number of extended exchanges.
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Despite cutting down his error count as the first set progressed though, issues with finding his depth then began to disrupt de Minaur’s game.
But when Mannarino went for a speculative winner down the line, his miss gifted the Aussie an opportunity to break serve. Although a perfectly executed wide serve saved the break point at 4-4.
De Minaur continued to give himself chances of breaking, winning the bulk of points on second serve but remained unable to convert these into quantifiable moments as Mannarino escaped yet another love – 30 game.
The tight tussle continued with a few entertaining rallies before de Minaur prevailed in the tiebreak thanks to an impressive passing shot and some excellent defence on the baseline.
Yet Mannarino immediately responded by breaking the Australian in the first game of the second set, as Lleyton Hewitt called for an improvement in de Minaur’s serve which was operating at slightly above 50%.
“Alex has got to serve a little bit better and get some more cheap points,” Hewitt said from his fellow countryman’s coach’s box.
The first set took over an hour to complete and the gruelling nature of the contest didn’t let up with a 38-shot rally early in the second.
Mannarino managed to score the double break, eventually wrapping up the set 6-4 to level proceedings following another marathon showing as the match inched past two hours.
De Minaur started the third set better than he did the previous one after holding onto his service game despite a scare, but then he eventually lost his serve again with Mannarino proving a tough test with his nimble work around the court and precise shot placement.
Although just as the Frenchman looked to be gaining the upper hand the topsy turvy nature of the match ramped up another level when ‘The Demon’ responded in kind to level at 3-3.
The Australian’s energy levels spiking as he roared to the crowd to lift after powering through a passing shot to swing the momentum.
The duo then exchanged an incredible point in the closing stages of the third set as de Minaur stormed back to claim it 6-4 at the first time of asking.
Exhaustion visibly setting in for Mannarino when he dropped a sliced return into the heart of the net.
De Minaur was now riding high in both confidence and momentum while on the opposite end of the court his opponent was lambasting his bad luck with shots skewing off his racquet at regular intervals.
“Mannarino looks all over the place,” Hewitt said. “Alex just needs to keep his head and stay calm.”
The long rallies had long since dissipated along with Mannarino’s composure and De Minaur scored a break to make it 3-1 in the fourth.
The Aussie suddenly rolling to towards victory after he at one stage claimed 13 of 15 points available to cruise into a 4-1 lead.
With the double break comfortably in his back pocket and his opponent neutralised, de Minaur served to see out the match and sent an ace crashing down the line to wrap up the victory in emphatic fashion.