Alex de Minaur will have to separate his personal life from his profession this week as Australia do battle with Great Britian in the Davis Cup group playoffs. The Aussie star has grown fond of England through his relationship with fellow tennis player girlfriend Katie Boulter.
But he will be hoping Boulter is left disappointed by a GB loss to Australia at Manchester's AO Arena. A likely match-up between World No.12 De Minaur and British No.1 Cameron Norrie will be crucial in determining who gets off to the perfect start in the group stage tie - starting on Wednesday night (AEST).
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"There's years and years of history of rivalry between the two nations," De Minaur told the PA news agency on Wednesday about Australia and Great Britian's many sporting clashes. "With Katie, I've got to spend a little bit more time here in the UK and I've been able to get to know a couple of the Brits a little bit better.
"We always give each other a little bit of crap if our nation wins. It's always a great competitive spirit between us. Katie's shown me around. I've found a lot of spots that I quite enjoy so it's been great, especially when the weather's good. There's a lot of similarities with Australia.
"A big thing for me is coffee. They love their coffee here as well, the breakfast places are kind of the same vibe. And one thing that I didn't have growing up in Australia or Spain is the countryside. I've grown really fond of the greenery."
De Minaur has been in sensational form over the last few months and recently rose to a career-high ranking. He made ATP finals in Mexico and Canada last month - including his maiden Masters 1000 final in Toronto.
He managed to beat Norrie en route to the Toronto final, extending his run of victories against British players to eight from the last nine matches. But the Aussie played down the significance of that result, saying: "I think Davis Cup is completely different. Every time we play it's been a battle, even when we practise it goes one way or the other.
"It's always going to be a toss up but I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully I can lift my level and play some good tennis. I've played some great tennis over the last couple of months and I'm really happy with where my level is at. It's going to be a very good test this group stage, a lot of very good players. Hopefully I can bring it all together and perform."
Australia to take on Great Britain in Davis Cup clash
Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt and British counterpart Leon Smith both have decisions to make about who will follow De Minaur and Norrie. Andy Murray, Dan Evans and 21-year-old Jack Draper are all in contention to play the singles for GB, while Evans is favourite to partner Neal Skupski in doubles - where Australia will likely go with former Wimbledon champions Matt Ebden and Max Purcell.
Purcell has also been in red-hot form and could get the nod to play singles, while Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis are Hewitt's other options in the absence of the injured Nick Kyrgios. The top two teams from the group will move on to the finals, which will take place in Malaga in November.
France took an early lead in Australia's group after beating Switzerland 3-0 on Tuesday night. Adrian Mannarino battled past Dominic Stricker 3-6 6-1 6-4, before Ugo Humbert sealed a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over veteran Stan Wawrinka - who was playing in his first Davis Cup match in seven years.
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