Web Stories Saturday, February 24

Alex de Minaur’s belief that he could beat Andrey Rublev and finally reach the Australian Open quarter-finals made Sunday’s defeat all the more devastating for the local favourite.

On a day when Australia Open defending champions Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka were both in action, all eyes in Melbourne were on 10th seed Alex de Minaur as he aimed to keep home interest in the competition alive.

De Minaur was the last Australian left in the singles, but his 6-4 6-7(5) 6-7(4) 6-3 6-0 loss to the fifth seed was certainly a world away from last year’s exit at the same stage, when he was demolished in straight sets by Djokovic.

“Maybe a couple of years ago or even last year, I would be sitting here, maybe even happy with the result, saying, I probably shouldn’t have won, he’s ranked higher than I am, I took him to five sets, pretty decent effort,” De Minaur said.

“But it’s completely changed because now I’m sitting here and I’m absolutely devastated because I saw it as a great opportunity and a match that I strongly believed I could have won.

“But it just slipped away.”

De Minaur won the second and third sets on a tiebreak, and just when it seemed like he had Rublev on the ropes, the Russian came back swinging.

“That’s the thing, it’s tough because I thought he was hurting physically in the third, and then in the fourth he just let go, he started swinging, the balls went in,” the Australian said.

“It’s not a match that I thought I lost physically. It was just that the racquet was taken out of my hand. Got to a stage where I just could not get him moving or expose that movement.”

While clearly disappointed at exiting at this stage of the competition for the third consecutive year, De Minaur remains positive about his overall improvement, having beaten Djokovic at the United Cup earlier this month.

“Look, I mean, I know it’s a little bit disappointing that I’m sitting here after a loss in the fourth round. I do think I’ve made a lot of steps in the right direction,” De Minaur said.

“I think my level is quite there. Against top-10 opponents this year, I’m 3-1. It’s not the worst of things, I was very close today. I’m doing the right things.”

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