Alex de Minaur inflicts new blow on Nick Kyrgios after maiden ATP 500 title

The Aussie tennis player has overtaken his compatriot after winning the Mexican Open in Acapulco.

Alex de Minaur, pictured here alongside Nick Kyrgios.
Alex de Minaur has overtaken Nick Kyrgios as Australia's top-ranked player. Image: Getty

Alex de Minaur has overtaken Nick Kyrgios as Australia's No.1-ranked tennis player after winning his first ATP 500 title at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. De Minaur scored the biggest title of his career on Sunday, beating Tommy Paul 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the final.

It marked the seventh title of the Aussie star's career, but his first at ATP 500 level. It also makes him just the second Australian in the last 15 years to win an ATP 500 title (along with Kyrgios).

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The first six titles of de Minaur's career came at ATP 250 events - the most recent of which came in Atlanta last year. But on Sunday he finally broke through for his first ATP 500 title and surged into the world's top 20 as a result.

When the ATP rankings are updated on Monday, de Minaur will be back in the top 20 for the first time in a number of years and will overtake Kyrgios as Australia's highest-ranked player. Kyrgios and de Minaur were previously 19th and 22nd in the ATP rankings respectively, but Kyrgios is set for a slide after his withdrawal from the Australian Open in January, coupled with his absence from upcoming ATP 1000 events at Indian Wells and Miami.

De Minaur will now move to 18th in the rankings - just three spots short of his career-best mark of World No.15 in 2021. "Like everything in my career, it's been step by step," he told the ATP website of his return to the top 20.

"I just want to keep pushing, keep getting the most out of myself. I know I might not play unbelievable tennis every day but I know I'm going to fight to the end. I've got a whole lot of heart in this little body of mine and I enjoy competing, so I'm very happy with it."

Alex de Minaur and Tommy Paul, pictured here with their trophies after the Mexican Open final.
Alex de Minaur and Tommy Paul pose with their trophies after the Mexican Open final. (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images) (RODRIGO ARANGUA via Getty Images)

Things didn't start well for de Minaur on Sunday as he lost the first set 6-3. However he managed to win a titanic second set before saving five break points in a marathon opening game of the third, which broke Paul's spirit and set de Minaur up for the victory.

"It feels great, it feels amazing," De Minaur said. "I know the hard work that's put in to be here and it's good to see the results. It's not always that you win the tournament and you get to finish a week unbeaten, so I'll definitely cherish this going into Indian Wells and Miami."

Alex de Minaur overtakes Nick Kyrgios

The Aussie paid tribute to his own fighting abilities, which have been likened to that of mentor Lleyton Hewitt. "Just to kind of stay in the match, especially in the second set ... I just dug deep, managed to scrap my way through it," he said.

"And then the first game of the third set was exactly like my semi-final against Holger (Rune). So I had that in the back of my mind, I just told myself to keep pushing.

"If I could keep pushing myself and get out of that game, the momentum was going to switch. I'm very happy I was able to get out of that."

Meanwhile, Kyrgios was thought to be targeting a return at Indian Wells this week. However organisers announced recently that he hasn't fully recovered from knee surgery he underwent after pulling out of the Australian Open on the eve of the event.

He will now turn his attention to the clay-court season and French Open. However there have been suggestions we won't see him until the grass-court season due to his well-documented hatred of clay and Roland Garros.

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