'He's been my dad': US Open rival's strange Alex de Minaur remark

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Seen here, Alex de Minaur plays a shot against Taylor Fritz in the first round of the US Open.
Alex de Minaur went down in four sets to Taylor Fritz in the first round of the US Open. Pic: AAP

Australia's top-ranked male tennis player Alex de Minaur's turbulent 2021 has taken another unfortunate twist after he was knocked out in the first round of the US Open.

An underdone de Minaur made a hasty first round exit after falling to American Taylor Fritz in four sets.

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The Australian No.1 was forced to withdraw from the Olympics after contracting COVID-19, which meant he'd only played four matches since his first round loss at Wimbledon.

Lacking his usual energy around the court for periods of the match, de Minaur went down 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 1-6 6-4 in what was his first ever loss to the American.

Fritz edged a tense first set after taking out the tiebreak, before taking a two-sets-to-love lead in dominant fashion.

However, de Minaur showed his trademark fighting spirit by battling back to take the third set after only dropping one game.

Buoyed by a vocal home crowd though, Fitz rediscovered the shot-making that had put him in command earlier in the match.

Pictured here, Taylor Fritz returns the ball against Alex de Minaur during their US Open clash.
Taylor Fritz returns the ball against Alex de Minaur during their US Open clash. Pic: Getty

The 23-year-old seized on the tiring legs of his Aussie opponent to seal the match in the fourth stanza and take his place in the second round.

Fritz had never beaten the Aussie 14th seed in the three previous meetings between the pair.

It was a record the big-serving American referenced after the match, albeit in a rather bizarre manner.

"He's pretty much been my dad since we started playing," Fritz joked about his fruitless record against the Aussie. 

"He does a lot of things that bother me, but I just knew I needed to serve well, compete well and attack, attack, attack and never give him a chance to move me around."

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Alex de Minaur crashes out in first round

Despite his struggles in 2021, de Minaur entered the tournament with his highest grand slam seeding at 14.

A quarter-finalist in 2020 before losing to eventual champion Dominic Thiem, the world No.17 hadn't dropped a set to big-serving Fritz, ranked 25 places below, in their three previous meetings.

But the 23-year-old American pushed world No.1 Novak Djokovic to a five-set thriller in the third round of this year's Australian Open, with the match bizarrely interrupted with fans sent home due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne.

De Minaur looked particularly flat in the second set, trailing 0-5 before making his mark on the scoreboard.

While he didn't challenge for the set it seemed to spark a revival while Fritz went off the boil.

The two went toe to toe in the fourth before Fritz broke de Minaur to wrap up the first round win.

with AAP

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