Alex de Minaur hopes New York’s electric atmosphere can not only help spark another US Open charge but also a late-season surge further up the rankings.
Back in the world’s top 20 after nabbing his sixth career title last month in Atlanta, de Minaur has arrived at Flushing Meadows brimming with belief and ambition as he bids to better his run to the quarter-finals in 2020.
The Australian No.1 hit a flat spot last year after contracting COVID-19, missing the Tokyo Olympics and winning just three matches in his last seven events of the season.
But the 23-year is humming again and says he couldn’t be better prepared for the season’s final grand slam after enjoying a week off to mentally and physically recharge.
“I’m feeling great,” de Minaur told AAP after being smooched by a bunch of puppies at a Manhattan photo shoot.
The speed demon has deliberately loaded up his tournament schedule in 2022, knowing he has a golden opportunity to gatecrash the top 10 for the first time after already winning 35 matches in his most productive season yet.
“This year has been a consistent year. I decided to play a heavy schedule and really take advantage of my poor results last year,” he ahead of his Open opener on Monday against Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic.
“I’ve got nothing to defend so I really want to finish strong and keep winning matches. I’m already in a great position right now but that’s not where I want to finish.
“I want to keep improving and keep pushing myself and I’ve got a great opportunity to do that.”
The secret of de Minaur’s success has been ensuring he doesn’t often lose to lower-ranked rivals but he admits he needs to start knocking off more big guns to take the next step.
He hopes to give himself that chance at the US Open, an event where he thrives playing in front of rowdy fans who, de Minaur suspects, appreciate his high-octane tennis.
“It’s a slam that’s brought the best tennis out of me. I’ve had my best results here and it’s just good conditions,” de Minaur said.
“Especially when the crowd’s on your side. That’s the biggest thing. If you can get them on your side, then it’s very enjoyable.
“They’re loud but I don’t mind that. Unless you’re playing an American, I feel like they’re a crowd that can relate to someone getting fired up, leaving it all out there, being a battler out there on court.
“So I feel like they’re behind me. I enjoy it here. I play some great tennis and it’s the last slam of the year so, hopefully, I can finish off strong.”
Ranked No.45 in the world and yet to reach the second week of a grand slam in 23 attempts, Krajinovic is one of those players de Minaur knows he should beat.
But Australia’s 18th seed is ever respectful.
“It’s a very tough match,” de Minaur said.
“But it’s best-of-five sets so I’m at a stage right now where I’m ready to hopefully play five sets of good tennis and make it as tough as I can for him.
“It’s going to be an absolute battle and I’m ready for that.”