Alex de Minaur is embracing his fan-favourite’s role as an honorary Brit as he eyes a coveted Wimbledon quarter-final berth – and maybe more – after cracking the second week for the first time.
Australia’s 19th seed continues to win over the English public, even after breaking British hearts for the second round running with a 6-3 6-4 7-5 dispatch of local wildcard Liam Broady on Saturday.
The 23-year-old is dating the new darling of British tennis Katie Boulter and is fast becoming a cult figure for his humble nature, love and respect for the home heroine and, not least, his high-octane game.
And de Minaur hopes to ride the wave of sentimental support all the way through the second week.
“It’s been obviously tough playing two Brits, but I’ve done everything I could and I felt quite a warm welcome,” de Minaur said after backing up his electrifying second-round comeback win over Jack Draper with a No.1-court clinic against Broady.
“I’m just appreciative of that and hopefully I can keep it going and get an even bigger crowd support next couple of matches.
“Yeah, I’ll take any support I can get, for sure.
“I’m pretty happy with the position I’m in right now, so hopefully I can keep it going.”
Boulter hailed de Minaur as an inspiration before bagging the biggest win of her career in the second round, ousting last year’s Wimbledon finalist Karolina Pliskova.
But a smitten de Minaur said the pleasure was all his to play a part in the love match of the tournament.
“I’m so proud of what she’s been able to do,” he said.
“Not many people know how strong she is, as a human being, as a character, how she’s been able to deal with a lot in her young career.
“Not only time off, the time she’s had to deal with a lot of injuries in her career.
“She hasn’t been playing nearly as much on tour just because of injuries and other things happening through her life. So I think she’s just an incredibly strong person.”
De Minaur, too, is proving an incredibly tough opponent on the famous London lawns and has a huge opportunity to gatecrash the quarter-finals when he faces unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin in the last-16 on Monday.
“This has always been a goal of mine for a while now, to try to make second week of slams,” said the world No.27 whose only last-eight appearance at a major came at the 2020 US Open.
“I feel like I’ve shown great level throughout the year but, when it came to slams, I kind of haven’t shown my best tennis or haven’t been able to crack through that kind of first week of slams.
“Just being able to get through week one, that’s the biggest thing. Doesn’t have to be pretty, doesn’t have to be flawless.
“But once you’re in a second week of a slam, you’re getting closer to the goal and you’re putting yourself in positions where now all the stress is out and you can go out there and play and stay loose.
“These are the positions that I’ve been really trying to get to and put myself out there and just give myself a chance, play against these top guys and who knows what can happen.”