Alex de Minaur's loss at the Australian Open is set to spark even more heartache for the Aussie star, who will fall out of the top 10 as a result. Earlier in January, de Minaur became the first Aussie male to reach the top 10 of the ATP rankings since his mentor Lleyton Hewitt in 2006.
The rankings rise came off the back of wins over fellow big guns Novak Djokovic, Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev at the United Cup. He also took down Carlos Alcaraz in an exhibition match before the Australian Open, and headed into the tournament full of confidence that he could finally make the quarter-finals for the first time at his home slam.
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However it all came undone in a brutal collapse against Andrey Rublev in the fourth round - marking the fourth time in five matches that he has lost at that stage of a grand slam. The only time he managed to break into the quarters came at the US Open in 2020.
But if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, he's also set to feel some pain when the rankings are updated at the end of the Australian Open. De Minaur won't lose any rankings points because he successfully defended the points he earned when he made the fourth round last year.
But Fritz's run to the quarter-finals will see him jump back into the top 10 and bump de Minaur out. Fritz only made the second round of the Australian Open last year, meaning the American will gain some big points for making the final eight this time around.
De Minaur entered the Australian Open as World No.10, but will be 11th when the rankings are update next Monday. Fritz came into the tournament as World No.12, but is now ninth on the live rankings.
Stefanos Tsistipas will also be a big loser in the new rankings. He came into the tournament at World No.7, but his loss in the fourth round after making the final last year will see him drop to 10th.
Unfortunately for de Minaur, Tsistipas' drop won't be enough to keep him in the top 10. While the difference between 10th and 11th in the rankings is virtually nothing, de Minaur would have been thriving off the fact he'd cracked the top 10 for the first time.
That one hurts! Thanks Australia for the unconditional love ❤️😓 pic.twitter.com/xJnuMPt6md
— alex de minaur (@alexdeminaur) January 22, 2024
Lleyton Hewitt backing Alex de Minaur for big things in 2024
But the 24-year-old will undoubtedly be hell-bent on rectifying that and breaking back in. According to Hewitt, de Minaur can make a deep run at the French Open and Wimbledon - but improvements are still needed if he wants to bridge the gap to the top players in the world.
"The four majors are obviously the big gest things, so the next three majors, the French, Wimbledon and the US Open, obviously to put himself in contention in the second week of those slams, especially Wimbledon and the US Open I think," Hewitt said on Channel 9 on Monday about the rest of de Minaur's year. "They're two surfaces he plays extremely well on, and there's not too many great grass-court players out there.
"I think Alex can really go to that next level and hopefully push towards a quarter-final and maybe even a semi-final at Wimbledon if the draw opens up. A lot depends on the players in front of you and at the moment they're such high quality players, especially the top four or five players in the world. They consistently seem to be there, so you're going to have to make those small improvements in your game to be able to make that small step and really push towards the quarter final and semi final of these tournaments."
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