For many years Australia’s best male tennis players have polarised opinion. From Lleyton Hewitt to Bernard Tomic, and in more recent times Nick Kyrgios.
Hewitt carved out a remarkable career as he went from the youngest world number one in history to a journeyman who gave his all on the court every year until his eventual retirement.
Whilst Hewitt irked some people for different reasons, his effort was never questioned, he wore his heart on his sleeve which meant even if he sometimes wasn’t liked, he would at least always be respected.
Kyrgios and Tomic, are upbeat ahead of their respective Australian Open campaigns despite facing tough draws, but over time have also aggravated the Australian public to the point of falling out of favour.
Both possess outstanding talent, but seem to lack the drive and passion of others before them.
Kyrgios in particular has shown elements of greatness, but has continuously found himself at odds with the Australian public.
Tomic has the potential to be a top ten player in the world, but is often more disenchanted with the sport than he is interested.
The lack of investment both have shown at times under the weight of expectation, along with the regular dummy spit on court, have frustrated Australian’s who want to see these two do well.
It’s the uncertainty as to what to expect from these two that annoys fans each year, and makes it understandable as to why Australian’s may find someone like Alex de Minaur easier to get behind ahead of this year’s grand slam.
De Minaur, 19, is now Australia’s number one ranked tennis player at 29th in the world, and is fresh from his first ATP title at the Sydney International over Andreas Seppi on Saturday.
It was a monumental effort that saw de Minaur having to win two games in one day following the postponement of his semi-final against Gilles Simon to a day later.
He’ll be sure to hit the ground running at Melbourne Park this year, with a deep run into the tournament definitely achievable.
Australian’s like to get behind those who put their body on the line out on court and de Minaur seems to fit the bill, having received comparisons to two-time grand slam winner Hewitt, who is a mentor of his.
The 27th seed at this year’s grand slam looks hungry to compete and perform well, and Australian’s love a competitor, which will certainly help endear him to the public more so than Kyrgios and Tomic have done in the past.
There’s not as many off the court controversies with de Minaur, he’s a likeable character, plays with passion, and there is effort and energy in every match he plays.
All three of Australia’s main chances in the men’s draw have the potential to make deep runs into the tournament, both Kyrgios and Tomic have been quarter finalists in grand slams previously and they have the talent which goes without saying.
De Minaur however, is taking the spotlight away from these two, who have been the poster boys in Australian tennis over the past few years; and Australian’s will enjoy watching someone who’s ready to put it all on the line in front of an Aussie crowd.