Rod Laver believes Alex de Minaur "should be doing more" with his tennis ability despite recently breaking into the top ten. The tennis legend says everyone in the top 15 is making the same improvements he is and believes he should be challenging for grand slams.
"Alex de Minaur is a great player," Laver said. "He should be doing more than he's doing because he's got a great game.
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"But there's 10 or 15 players who are so talented now that there's no easy matches. Alex is tough, but also all the other players have improved and the competition is getting so much bigger now."
De Minaur will have a tough path to reach the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, with fifth seed Andrey Rublev standing between him earning a spot in the last eight of his home grand slam for the first time. But Laver says whoever progresses through will be playing for second as he believes it would take something "miraculous" to stop Novak Djokovic from claiming an unprecedented 11th Australian Open crown.
Laver says despite being 36, Djokovic is still playing "amazing" and believes he is not only the man to beat but practically has the Australian Open wrapped up. "He has all the shots. He knows exactly when he could play them and when he can't play them," Laver said.
"It is almost to me like he's priming himself to get through to the final. He'll lose a set somewhere in these five-setters and I'm thinking 'Is he having us on' because he could do this in two and two and two (6-2 6-2 6-2).
"He's such a great athlete to begin with, but his mind also is tennis and so he sees it almost unfold in front of him, just what he should be doing. That is how he is being a great champion. He serves well, his groundstrokes are unbeatable so I have to believe unless someone miraculously plays their best tennis to knock him off, they can start putting part of his initials on the trophy now."
Djokovic will face crafty French left-hander Adrian Mannarino on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals. The Frenchman comes into the match on the back of a five-set war of attrition with American Ben Shelton.
Storm Hunter's dream run comes to an end
Storm Hunter's Australian Open run came to an end after she coughed up a one-set lead in a 6-4 5-7 3-6 loss to the Czech No.9 seed Barbora Krejcikova on Friday night. The Aussie qualifier couldn't make the most of break points in the second set and saw her dream run come to an end, leaving De Minaur as the only Australian player left in the singles competition.
The World No.1 doubles player is provisionally set to rise to World No.127 in the singles rankings and said she loved every bit of her singles run. "I absolutely loved it out there. It was a lot of fun," she said of her tournament.
"Even though I didn't get the win, this whole week has been a win for my singles. I don't want to look at it as disappointing today because I enjoyed every minute. It's not every night you get to play on Rod Laver Arena after Novak and have all the fans out there.
"I'm definitely seeing it as a positive. I've played six really high-quality singles matches here. Any other tournament, that would be probably a win of a tournament."
- with AAP
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