Djokovic’s high praise for de Minaur ahead of Aus Open despite tricky draw

Djokovic's high praise for de Minaur ahead of Aus Open despite tricky draw

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Novak Djokovic rates local hope Alex de Minaur’s chances of a deep run at the Australian Open, saying it’s no surprise to see the Sydneysider crack the world’s top 10.

De Minaur beat the world No.1 for the first time, as well as fellow top-10 players Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev, at the United Cup in the lead-up to the Melbourne Park major.

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He’ll play former world No.3 Milos Raonic in a tricky first-round tie, seeking to better his fourth-round exits of the last two years.

The 24-year-old’s first likely seeded opponent is Chile’s world No.18 Nicolas Jarry in the third round, with Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev potentially awaiting in the last 16.

“He beat Fritz, myself, Zverev; broke into the top 10 for the first time in his career,” Djokovic mused of the Australian ahead of his own first-round opener against Croatia’s Dino Primic on Sunday. 

“It’s a big deal for him, for Australian tennis.

“It didn’t come as a surprise to me. I know that he’s capable of doing big things; he’s one of the quickest, if not the quickest, tennis player we have in the game. 

“He’s got all-around tennis game, can play equally well (in) defence and offence.”

Alex de Minaur. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Djokovic said having former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt in de Minaur’s corner would help as the Aussie looks to reach the final-four of a major for the first time.

“Hewitt by his side as a mentor, who has had a pretty similar style of tennis,” Djokovic said. 

“It helps a lot to guide him also mentally in this process of competing at the highest level.

“The expectations are high from him as they normally are from (the injured Nick) Kyrgios or any other top Australian player when they play at home.

“There is a great chance that he can do very well and go deep in the tournament.

“You never know; you can’t predict the results, but he’s in great shape.”

© AAP

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