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'Devastated' De Minaur will keep fighting to improve

Alex de Minaur is adamant that, despite being "devastated" by his Australian Open exit, he's a different player these days and can rebound strongly.



The Alex de Minaur of old might have looked on his Australian Open fourth-round defeat with little more than a shrug of resignation and a weary acceptance that his exit was "fair enough".


But the new model 'Demon' promises he's "night and day" a different player these days, and his higher expectations meant he felt only devastation after his five-set loss to Andrey Rublev and a fresh ferocity to prove he belongs in the world's tennis elite.  

 

Admirers were left trying to encourage de Minaur after he gave up a two-sets-to-one lead on Sunday and got bagelled in the decider by the weary Russian, who just went for broke and fired winner after winner to prevail 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0.  


Fellow Australian Nick Kyrgios applauded his efforts in a match played at an "insane" level of athleticism, while American legend John McEnroe reckoned de Minaur had only been beaten by a man playing "one of the greatest fifth sets I've ever seen in a grand slam".


"It was one of the all-time great efforts by Rublev, who's taken it up to the next level," said McEnroe on Eurosport. 


"De Minaur wanted it so bad - it's a damn shame he lost but, unfortunately, someone has got to."

De Minaur admitted that he felt "devastated" by his fourth-round loss.


But once again, de Minaur, whose heart can never be faulted, was found wanting in the denouement, largely overpowered by the world No.5's heavier artillery even though he looked, physically, in better shape than the badly cramping Rublev.


"Night and day, I'm a different player. Maybe a couple 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 higher ranked than I am, I took him to five sets, pretty decent effort," mused de Minaur.


"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 I strongly believed I could have won.


But it just slipped away.


"It's not a match that I thought I lost physically. It was just that the racquet was taken out of my hand.


He was just standing and hitting from every single part of the court at just mach 10.


That's probably the most disappointing part of the whole match."


De Minaur is still sure his triumphant summer leading into Melbourne, featuring wins over Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Taylor Fritz and Carlos Alcaraz (albeit in an exhibition), have still instilled new confidence.


"I do think I've made a lot of steps in the right direction," he mused.


"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."


But set to drop out of the top-10 again after Melbourne, he accepts there's one old familiar area, in particular, he has to sharpen up further despite distinct improvements this summer.


"Realistically, again, I think what let me down was my serve. There lies the difference in this match.


My serve was something that has been really good to me this whole Australian summer and, today, it kind of disappeared. It's a little bit disappointing.


"It is what it is. I mean, life goes on. I know the areas I've got to work on.


Again, like I've done my whole career, I'll get better, I'll improve, and, hopefully, next time I'll be able to take it to the next level." 


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