Alex de Minaur has spent much of his career toiling in Nick Kyrgios’s shadow but is finally grabbing the spotlight in his home country Australia while his flashy compatriot remains sidelined with injury.
De Minaur’s triumph at the Mexico Open in Acapulco over the weekend was not only the 24-year-old’s biggest career title but also ensured he has replaced Kyrgios as Australian number one with his boost to 18th in world rankings.
Not blessed with killer weapons in his game, De Minaur has nonetheless, crafted an increasingly impressive resume with gut-busting running, grit and a never-say-die attitude.
Sometimes that’s enough, as American Tommy Paul found out in Acapulco as De Minaur roared back from a set down to claim a 3-6 6-4 6-1 win in the final of the ATP 500 tournament.
“Like everything in my career, it’s been step by step,” De Minaur said.
“I know I might not play unbelievable tennis every day, but I know I’m going to fight to the end.
“I’ve got a whole lot of heart in this little body of mine, and I enjoy competing, so I’m very happy with it.”
The win was his second from a set down after overhauling Denmark’s rising teen star Holger Rune in the semi-final.
It also made him only the second Australian to win an ATP 500 title in the past 15 years, the other being Kyrgios.
There is still some distance between De Minaur and the very best, as was seen in his straight-sets demolition by Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open fourth round, a match that failed to live up to its prime-time billing.
However, with Kyrgios struggling with a knee injury, De Minaur heads to the ATP 1,000 events at Indian Wells and Miami with momentum behind him in his push toward the top 10.
“I know the hard work that’s put in to be here and it’s good to see the results,” he said.