Tennis world in awe of 'breathtaking' De Minaur

Alex de Minaur may not have won the Sydney International final but the 18-year-old has well and truly won over the people.

He's got fans swooning and has captured the hearts of past and present players worldwide, even Andy Murray is on the bandwagon.

And judging by the last fortnight, it won't be long before Australia's newest tennis hero has established himself among the cream of the men's game.

The man who beat him in Saturday's final, Daniil Medvedev, was quick to label de Minaur "the future of tennis".

De Minaur came up just short. Image: Getty
De Minaur came up just short. Image: Getty

But not before the young Russian endured the hometown favourite's captivating third-set comeback from 4-0 down to very nearly pull the rug right out from under his feet.

Despite admitting afterwards his tank was close to empty, de Minaur's grit and insatiable tenacity only fuelled comparisons to a young Lleyton Hewitt in front of a zealous crowd.

His repertoire of shots and undaunted approach to big opponents have done that likeness favours too, and been the bread and butter of his extraordinary breakthrough.

"It's been a roller coaster, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way," de Minaur said.

"I have enjoyed every second of it. It's been a thrill, and I just want it to keep on going.

"I'm tremendously proud. I put in all the hard yards and it's great to see I've got the level to beat these guys and make back-to-back great results.

"That's something I was really trying to work on from last year, to be more consistent, and I felt like I proved myself in that aspect these two weeks."

As Darren Cahill, the Australian former player and current coach of women's world No.1 Simona Halep, observed, to outdo a breakout week one week later "shows the moxy of this young fella".

What a fortnight he's had. Image: Getty
What a fortnight he's had. Image: Getty

Indeed, his Brisbane International semi-final run coupled with his appearance in the Sydney decider make de Minaur the youngest man to make back-to-back ATP tour semi-finals since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal did so 13 years ago.

At the start of this week his world ranking sat at No.167; by the beginning of next that's projected to rise 40 places.

Even Britain's three-time grand slam winner Murray was full of compliments for the Sydney-born boy who splits his time between Australia and Spain.

"I wish I was as grown up as Alex de Minaur on the tennis court, great attitude! Love watching him play," Murray wrote on Twitter.

Likeable, well-mannered and gracious in defeat are all part of de Minaur's appeal.

He's the kid who rocks up to his press conference wearing his NSW State of Origin jersey and espouses his 'Blue wall' philosophy of not letting a ball pass his diminutive frame.

Not many do, as high-profile victims Milos Raonic, Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez can attest.

Now Tomas Berdych awaits in the Australian Open's first round and a fatigued de Minaur must regroup quickly to be ready for the five-set format.

But the Czech veteran has already been put on notice.

"I want all the players out in the locker room to know that I'm going to give it 100 per cent and fight until the last point," de Minaur said.

"They're all going to have to beat me. That's what I pride myself on."

with AAP