'Very difficult': Aussie earns high praise from Stefanos Tsitsipas

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·2-min read
Stefanos Tsitsipas (pictured right) fist-pumping and Aussie Alex de Minaur (pictured left) hitting a volley.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (pictured right) praised Aussie Alex de Minaur (pictured left) after a hard-fought match. (Getty Images)

Aussie rising star Alex de Minaur lost a hard-fought battle to No.2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a high-octane match at the Barcelona Open.

De Minaur was up against it as he faced the Monte Carlo champion, but used his usual energy to make things tough for Tsitsipas.

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But the 7-5, 6-3 victory for Tsitsipas on Thursday did not give a fair reflection of de Minaur's bold effort in trying to derail the Greek superstar's current brilliant run.

De Minaur used the drop shot remarkably well throughout the tough battle and even produced the shot of the match after an exhausting rally with Tsitsipas.

The Australian's battling effort prompted Tsitsipas to heap praise on the youngster.

"Alex was competing for every ball, running left, right, getting every single ball back, playing close to the line, so it was definitely difficult," said the 22-year-old, who has won his last 13 sets in competitive action.

"Alex is a good competitor, always puts out his best game. Running and getting an extra ball back is actually his biggest strength and it always makes him very difficult to play against.

"But I found ways to go through and qualify for the next round, which was important to me."

De Minaur's clay struggles continue

De Minaur's struggles on clay are well-known and his victory over Alexander Bublik in the previous round had been, remarkably, only the third clay court victory of the world No.25's entire ATP tour career.

But he took the fight to Tsitsipas, going on the attack whenever possible and sprinkling his game with variety and plenty of drop shots to make the opening set a very even affair until the Greek pounced in the 12th game.

Tsitispas will face Felix Auger Aliassime after he defeated compatriot Denis Shapovalov.

Rafael Nadal also progressed at the Barcelona Open, which included a moment of genius from the Spaniard.

The 'King of Clay' needed to go the distance for the second successive day in Barcelona, before beating Japan's Kei Nishikori to make the last-eight of the tournament in his homeland.

The 6-0, 2-6, 6-2 win over 2014 and 2015 champion Nishikori means the World No.3 remains on track for an astonishing 12th Barcelona title.

Watch 'Mind Games', the new series from Yahoo Sport Australia exploring the often brutal mental toil elite athletes go through in pursuit of greatness:

with AAP

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