Demon sets new standards despite Wimbledon disappointment

Demon sets new standards despite Wimbledon disappointment


“I feel like I’m putting myself in these positions, and it’s a shame that I can’t go out there and play. So, the positive is I made back-to-back quarter-finals in slams … it’s where I want to be.”

The “freak” hip injury – a tear high on his right side, near the abdomen – robbed him of the exhilaration of celebrating his maiden voyage to the All England club’s last eight.

De Minaur is enjoying an outstanding, career-best season.Credit: Getty Images

He knew deep down that he was done as soon as he heard a “loud crack” after the third-last point in his fourth-round victory over French up-and-comer Arthur Fils.

Even then, the man they call “Demon” still went searching for a miracle when he gingerly trudged out to the Aorangi Park practice courts on Wednesday morning to see if he could somehow make the start line. He lasted fewer than 10 minutes hitting with Hewitt before pulling the pin.

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It seems only a matter of time before de Minaur also cruelly withdraws from the Olympic Games for the second straight time after a case of COVID-19 took him out of contention three years ago in Tokyo.

What cannot be taken away from him is the legitimacy he has earned in a spectacular season even better than his breakout year in 2023, when he halved his ranking from 24 to 12.

There were still media outlets unwilling to trust de Minaur’s form line ahead of this year’s Australian Open despite him claiming three consecutive top-10 scalps – Fritz, Djokovic and Alex Zverev – at the ATP Cup. They know who they are.

Not that Demon cares. He thrives on being doubted, and told this masthead on Wimbledon eve that critics still thought he had peaked. Boy, were they wrong. Again.

Whether de Minaur has another gear to go to, and whether he can win a grand slam title or even make a final, remains to be seen.

Any fanciful thoughts of players vulturing “easy” titles after the Big Three (or is it Four?) era ends were long forgotten once Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner emerged. De Minaur’s never beaten either of them, but he has been more competitive against Alcaraz.

De Minaur made the Roland-Garros and Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time this year.

De Minaur made the Roland-Garros and Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time this year.Credit: AP

That will be the next riddle for de Minaur to solve, but it would be foolish to bet against him, given everything he has achieved across the past 21 months.

His forehand is unrecognisable and suddenly now a weapon, his first-serve percentage needs to improve, but he is winning many more cheap points off it, and his returning and speed across the court are arguably unmatched.

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De Minaur is also a brilliant tactician, and while it is impossible to measure confidence, it’s safe to say his belief has ballooned during this career-defining period.

Getting fit and backing this all up during the US hardcourt swing – culminating in New York’s boisterous major – will be one challenge, but doing this all again next year will be another altogether.

But first things first: at some stage in these next few days, de Minaur will hopefully be able to enjoy what he accomplished at Wimbledon. A serious player achieved a serious feat.

Marc McGowan is at Wimbledon with the support of Tennis Australia.

Watch Wimbledon 2024 from July 1 live and exclusively free on Nine and 9Now with every match streaming ad-free, live and on demand with centre court in 4K on Stan Sport.

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