Web Stories Friday, February 23

MELBOURNE :Surviving home hope Alex De Minaur has his eyes on breaking through his fourth-round barrier for the first time at the Australian Open after reaching last 16 without losing set.

The 10th seed crushed Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli 6-3 6-3 6-1 on Friday to continue an impressive start to the season which included a win over Novak Djokovic at the United Cup.

The 24-year-old is through to the fourth round for the third time in Melbourne but has never gone further, while his best-ever Grand Slam run was a quarter-final at the 2020 U.S. Open.

Having been the lone Australian man to reach the third round this year, De Minaur is shouldering a nation’s hopes. But he looks in the mood to make a deeper run.

“First of all, I’ll try to get a little bit better and beat my personal best, get to a quarter-finals,” he told reporters.

“That’s the first step. I’ve made a couple fourth rounds in the past. I maybe have gotten to that point and not played the type of match I wanted to.

“I’m hoping I can break that barrier and go one further.”

None of De Minaur’s matches so far have gone beyond two hours, leaving him fresh for his clash with tenacious Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev after he beat American Sebastian Korda to take his place in the fourth round.

“I probably must be feeling the freshest I’ve been getting at this stage of the tournament. Obviously I got a little bit lucky with Milos (Raonic) pulling out (in the first round),” he said. “Therefore, the match wasn’t too long. Then I played two straight-sets wins that weren’t too long.

“Physically I’m feeling great. Now it’s just about giving all my energy for what’s to come.”

The hard work starts now for De Minaur if he is to finally make his mark at a Grand Slam after a rather underwhelming record so far in the majors.

“This is where the tail end of the tournament starts, the second week of slams,” he said. “I’ve always been told that the first week of a slam is to get through however way you want to, and the second week is when you start to play your real tennis.”

On facing Rublev, De Minaur said: “We’ve played a few times over the years. We’ve also played at different stages of our careers. Last year I think we played twice. I got him in Rotterdam, and he got me at the end of the year in Bercy.

“He’s got some immense firepower, and his forehand is deadly.”

(Writing by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis)

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