Alex de Minaur takes down Nick Kyrgios in 17-year first for Australian tennis

The 24-year-old is now the highest-ranked male Aussie tennis player since Lleyton Hewitt in 2006.

Alex de Minaur, Nick Kyrgios and Lleyton Hewitt.
Alex de Minaur is now ranked higher than Nick Kyrgios ever has been, and the highest for an Aussie male since Lleyton Hewitt. Image: Getty

Alex de Minaur has become the highest-ranked Aussie male tennis player since Lleyton Hewitt after rising to World No.12 this week. The Aussie player has been in red-hot form during the North American hard-court swing, making back-to-back finals at Los Cabos and Toronto.

The stellar form has seen de Minaur move up the ATP rankings to a career-high of No.12 - one place higher than Nick Kyrgios' best of No.13. It means De Minaur is the highest-ranked Aussie male player since Hewitt was still in the top 10 in 2006.

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De Minaur has emphatically usurped Kyrgios as Australia's best male hope, with Kyrgios plagued by injury issues throughout 2023. Last year's Wimbledon finalist recently announced that he won't be playing at the US Open starting later this month, meaning he will miss all four grand slams this year.

After a knee injury forced him to withdraw on the eve of the Australian Open, Kyrgios suffered a wrist injury that ruled him out of Wimbledon. The injury issues have seen him plummet out of the top 100, although he will have a 'protected' ranking in the 20s when he is able to return.

But with De Minaur fit and firing, Australia still has a genuine contender for the US Open. "Looking at the results, I'm pretty happy with where my level is at and how I'm continuously chipping away towards my goals," the 24-year-old said after his loss to Jannik Sinner in the Canadian Open final.

"Step by step, I feel like I'm getting better. I'm showing my level against top opponents, day in and day out.

"This week was a great week for me. I'm feeling confident. I'm going to be ranked 12 and I've still got plenty and plenty of areas to improve on. I think it's going to be the case my whole career but that's the beauty of it, so it's exciting for me."

Alex de Minaur to spearhead Australia in Davis Cup finals

While Kyrgios always seems to divide opinion even when he's winning, De Minaur is much-loved and never seems to put a foot wrong in the eyes of fans. While he lacks the outright talent and ability of Kyrgios, De Minaur has the fight and determination that wins over fans.

Somewhat of an anti-Kyrgios, De Minaur always makes himself available for his country and will do so again for Australia's Davis Cup finals charge in September. While Kyrgios hasn't played Davis Cup for years, De Minaur has been spearheading Australia's charge whenever he can.

Davis Cup captain Hewitt announced his team for the round-of-16 stage on Tuesday, with Jordan Thompson, Max Purcell, Thanasi Kokkinakis and doubles star Matt Ebden joining De Minaur in Manchester from September 12-17. Australia have been drawn in Group B alongside Great Britain, France and Switzerland and will need to finish in the top two in the pool to advance to the quarter-finals - which take place in Malaga, Spain, from November 21-26.

Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Alex de Minaur and Lleyton Hewitt in the Davis Cup.
Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jordan Thompson, Alex de Minaur and Lleyton Hewitt after the Davis Cup final in 2022. (Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

De Minaur, Hewitt and the rest of the Aussie team were left shattered last year when they lost to Canada in the final. With Australia boasting eight players in the men's top 100 even without Kyrgios, Hewitt said selecting the team for Manchester was particularly difficult.

"But that's a position that myself, (coaches Tony) Roche and 'Crabby' (Jaymon Crabb) enjoy being in," the skipper said. "We prefer to have it that way over having limited players to choose from."

Hewitt said De Minaur "has played some of his best tennis in Davis Cup, so we're very fortunate to have him spearheading us again. He's come off a fantastic run in Toronto."

De Minaur continued his charge to the US Open at the Cincinnati Open on Tuesday (local time) with a 6-0 3-6 6-1 over American player JJ Wolf. Alexei Popyrin earlier kicked off a busy day for Australians with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 win over Germany's Daniel Altmaier. Purcell also beat South Africa's Lloyd Harris 6-4 6-4.

with AAP

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