Alex de Minaur at centre of worrying scenes in brutal drama at Madrid Open

The Aussie tennis player isn't exactly setting the world on fire ahead of the French Open.

·5-min read
Alex de Minaur, pictured here after going down to Aslan Karatsev at the Madrid Open.
Alex de Minaur went down to Aslan Karatsev at the Madrid Open. Image: Getty/Tennis TV

Alex de Minaur's indifferent form on clay has continued ahead of the French Open, with the Aussie suffering a brutal loss in Madrid to a play over 100 places below him in the rankings. De Minaur was beaten by qualifier Aslan Karatsev on Monday, with the Australian World No.19 going down 3-6 6-4 4-6.

The two-hour and 16-minute contest seemed to be swinging back in de Minaur's favour when he broke at 5-4 to win the second set. However Karatsev managed to break in the fifth game of the third set to gain the upper hand.

'INAPPROPRIATE': Outfit controversy erupts at Madrid Open

'ZERO CLASS': Holger Rune caught up in 'disgusting' drama

De Minaur forced deuces in both the 10th and 12th games of the decider, but couldn't find a way to break back. The loss comes as another crushing blow for the Aussie star, considering the Russian Karatsev is well down at No.121 in the world.

To be fair, Karatsev is a former top-20 player and stunned the tennis world when he made the semi-finals at the Australian Open in 2021. However the Russian has suffered a staggering tumble down the rankings in the two years that have followed and hasn't managed to recapture his best form.

The loss also continues some worrying indifferent form on clay for de Minaur, who shapes as Australia's best chance at the French Open starting later this month. With Nick Kyrgios unlikely to play and Ajla Tomljanovic struggling with injuries, Australia's hopes will likely rest on de Minaur's shoulders at Roland Garros.

The 24-year-old kicked off his clay-court campaign with a stunning win over Andy Murray in Monte Carlo, which the three-time grand slam champion described as one of the worst losses of his career. But de Minaur then went down to Jan-Lennard Struff in a brutal straight-sets thrashing.

The Aussie then made the quarter-finals in Barcelona after beating Alexander Shevchenko and getting a walkover from Grigor Dimitrov, before he was outplayed by Stefanos Tsitsipas in another straight-sets loss. It appeared as though de Minaur was on the right track when he beat Marco Cecchinato in his opening match in Madrid, but Monday's loss to Karatsev won't fill fans with confidence ahead of the French Open.

Fans were left gutted for de Minaur, with some describing his loss as 'horrible' and 'hard to watch'.

Alex de Minaur misses showdown with Daniil Medvedev

The World No.19 could have set up a showdown with Daniil Medvedev in the last 16, after Medvedev came from a break down twice in the final set to beat fellow Russian Shevchenko a 4-6 6-1 7-5. "He played well. He's young, so I'm sure he's going to (move) up the rankings, especially if he plays like in this tournament," Medvedev said of the 96th-ranked Shevchenko, who was making his main-draw debut in Madrid after coming through qualifying.

Shevchenko appeared to struggle with cramps towards the end of the match, and couldn't convert after leading 2-0 and 4-2 in the deciding set. Meanwhile, Francis Tiafoe's poor start to the European clay-court season continued with a 6-1 7-6 (7-2) loss to Argentina's World No.67 Pedro Cachin.

Daniil Medvedev, pictured here after beating Alexander Shevchenko at the Madrid Open.
Daniil Medvedev celebrates after beating Alexander Shevchenko at the Madrid Open. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The American World No.11 lost in the opening round in Barcelona last month. Cachin will now play German lucky loser Struff, who moved into the last 16 with a 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-3 win over Dusan Lajovic.

In the women's draw, World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka ended the golden run of 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva in a 6-3 6-1 victory. Andreeva became only the third 15-year-old to win a WTA 1000 main draw match when she beat 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez last week.

She went on to beat two top 20 players in Beatriz Haddad Maia and Magda Linette in Madrid - the second of which came on her 16th birthday. But she was no match for the Australian Open champion on Monday.

"Of course I'm happy with the win, I wish I would have played at Madrid when I was 16," Sabalenka said. "I think my first few games I was trying to adjust for her rhythm and her game, and then I kept trying to play my game, be aggressive and fight for every point."

with agencies

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.