Alex de Minaur will arrive at next week’s Australian Open on a high after breaking into the men’s world top 10 rankings.
De Minaur is guaranteed to enter the top 10 following his 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 triumph over world number seven Alexander Zverev in Saturday night’s Australia-Germany United Cup semifinal in Sydney.
He will become the first Australian men’s player to hold down a top-10 berth since his United Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt achieved the feat in 2006.
While the 24-year-old’s win over Zverev was not enough to get Australia past Germany, de Minaur said he had never felt more confident heading into the season-opening major in Melbourne.
His United Cup campaign also included wins over world number one Novak Djokovic and 10th-ranked American Taylor Fritz.
“I was able to really step it up after my first match and get that confidence and it’s great getting these matches before the Australian Open,” de Minaur said.
“It was very special and it’s a moment I’ll cherish forever.
“I see all the reasons why I’m not going to be a good player, why I’m not going to make it or why I’m not going to improve.
“I store it in the back of my head, and I use it as motivation.
“Ultimately, it’s my drive that has put me in this position and I want to get the absolute most out of myself.”
Zverev said de Minaur could expect to go deep at the Australian Open based on his United Cup performances.
“I feel like that’s the best Alex has played against me,” Zverev said.
“He’s in unbelievable form … his forehand has always been probably the shakier shot, but it wasn’t.
“His second serve especially surprised me, he was going at 160kmh to 165kmh, which never used to be the case.
“His second serve was always a weak spot and he played amazingly.
“He beat Novak in straight sets and he beat me today, he’s in very good form and he’s very dangerous at the moment.”
The Australian Open kicks off at Melbourne Park on January 14.