Perhaps the most impressive element of Alex De Minaur’s run to the Sydney International semifinals has been his composure.
Round after round, the 18-year-old Aussie wildcard has faced bigger, stronger and far more experience opposition – such as Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez – and brushed them aside in straight sets.
Playing under lights on the imposing Ken Rosewall Arena before thousands of fans didn’t seem to phase him either. And as he stepped up to the line to serve for a place in the semifinals on Thursday night, he completed the task with aplomb.
So how has he taken this wild ride in his stride?
De Minaur explained to the media some of the factors that have helped him psychologically during the Aussie summer.
He’s open to new experiences:
“After every point and every game I’m out there, I’m learning, taking it all in. I know how to deal with different types of situations now. This is just really helping me.”
“Before every important game on my serve, I made sure I used my breathing techniques and focused on what I wanted to do. That helped me get over the line (against Lopez).
“That’s some work I have been doing with a psychologist back in Spain. You know, he’s always told me to do it, and now I’m finally doing it (smiling). So now I realise how much better my game is, thanks to those simple techniques.
“That’s lots of hours of hard work. I felt like that’s something I lacked last year. I really put in lots of hours focusing, just not dropping mentally. I think that’s probably the biggest thing for me.”
He listens to the right noise:
“You feel nervous at times in matches, but the adrenaline and intensity and the crowd also helps you deal with them. You try to fire up and get pumped and let all the nerves go away.”
He keeps things in perspective:
“It’s going to be another match (against Paire). I’m going to get out there and do what I have been doing. It’s going to be fun. He’s a very talented player. Has a very high level. I’m just going to go out there, try to weather the storm, and try to play my game.”
His belief is growing:
“I always knew I had the level, but I didn’t think I had the belief when I stepped out on court. But now I’ve got that belief in me that I can go toe to toe with lots of guys out there. So I’m going into every match believing in myself and believing in my ability. I think that’s probably the biggest change (in recent weeks).”
He never gives up:
“(I’m) just trying to win every point. Not letting go because of the scoreline or anything. You have to play every point and try to win every point. That’s what I’m trying to do when I’m out there on court, and it’s really helped me to stay on my opponents both physically and mentally.
“I think that’s just my mentality on court. I like to think that I never back down. I leave it all out there. I like to think that’s where (my nickname) ‘Demon’ comes from.”