Australian Open 2023: Alex de Minaur beats Benjamin Bonzi, sets up Novak Djokovic 4th round showdown, secret weapon

Alex de Minaur’s motto, etched in sharpie on the side of his tennis bag, is “Don’t worry”.

It has served the 22nd seed well as he advanced to his second consecutive Australian Open fourth round on Saturday afternoon.

De Minaur cruised with a straight sets win over Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi, taking just over two hours to advance, 7-6 6-2 6-1.

After the match, de Minaur said he was stoked to get away in three sets.

“Every time I get out here I have to pinch myself. I just enjoy what I do every day and I’m just happy.”

“As a kid, this is what you train for. I’m pretty happy, I won’t lie.”

Whether or not he is “worried” is another thing.

He faces a fourth round match-up with either nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic or former world number 3 Grigor Dimitrov.

If Djokovic advances on Saturday night, it will be the first time de Minaur and the Serbian champ have gone head-to-head.

“I am going to have my popcorn ready,” de Minaur said during his on-court interview on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a hell of a match, both Novak and Grigor, (great) competitors.”

But at his post-match press conference, a question from The New York Times revealed de Minaur could have a secret weapon.

The Aussie was asked if playing on Rod Laver Arena makes him “10 per cent better”.

“I love playing here in my back yard,” de Minaur said.

“The Aussie crowd is amazing and they’ve had my back from day dot. I’ll always cherish that.”

He said it is a factor his opponents should consider when playing an Aussie Down Under.

“I think the difference is that the opponents not only have to play me but me and the whole crowd.”

He said he approaches the task the same way no matter where he plays.

“I’m the same, I try to bring it every place I step out on the court.”

On the prospect of facing Djokovic, de Minaur was positive but full of praise.

“Ultimately, he’s one of the best in the world and I’m going to have to take it to him. I’m going to make it as tough as I can. This is the match that I want. I’ll get fired up.”

He called Dimitrov “one of the most talented players on tour”.

“His top level is exceptional. He makes tennis look very, very easy.”

De Minaur was also asked whether the balls at this year’s Australian Open were different than previous years. Several players have suggested they are softer than usual.

“I have heard a lot of players voicing their opinions on the balls,” he said.

“It’s been difficult because I’ve played two matches during the night when it’s colder and it’s felt quite slow.

“The whole practise week it was hot every day and the balls felt like they were really flying out there. The balls have played differently every time I’ve stepped out on court.”

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