Brisbane | De Minaur causes first upset
Teenager Alex De Minaur produced the first shock of the Brisbane International when he eliminated Steve Johnson in the first round.
The Australian 18-year-old produced a solid defensive game taking his opportunities to go on the counter attack with some relish, whenever possible.
I played a great match and beat a high-quality opponent, I’m stoked. I showed how I can play today, so now it’s all about maintaining that levelAlex De Minaur
Ranked 208, he beat the American 28-year-old ranked 44 in the world, 7-6(7) 6-4 and now faces former world No.3 Milos Raonic, seeded four, who is returning to the tour after a season which has seen him suffer a series of injuries. The Canadian’s ranking has consequently dropped to 24 and another upset could well be possible.
“I’m pretty delighted; it’s the best way to finish off the year,” De Minaur said following the win. “I played a great match and beat a high-quality opponent, I’m stoked. I showed how I can play today, so now it’s all about maintaining that level.”
De Minaur had showed his potential when, on his debut last year at the Australian Open, he beat Gerald Melzer in a five-set thriller.
Earlier he won the Australian Open Play-off event and will be back to the scene of his first upset but, in the meantime, he has to contend with the big Canadian.
“He’s a player that you watch on TV all the time so it’s going to be lots of fun to get out on court and play with him,” he said. “(The play-off win was a) real boost of confidence and self-belief as well. I’m really comfortable with where my game’s at.”
Fellow Aussie Matthew Eden joined him in round two after accounting for Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-2 to set up a meeting with another Aussie, the controversial Nick Kyrgios.
Ebden, at 30 years of age, is making a comeback of his own having had his career interrupted by a knee injury in 2016. Ranked 699 at the start of last season, he has improved to 76 and has nearly reached his career high of 61 reached in 2012.
“For sure I’m a better player, whether or not that shows in rankings yet is to be seen,” he said. “Nearing the end of my 20s, you start thinking this isn’t for ever … but I know the level I can play at, you don’t lose that, it’s not a fluke.
“I think I can do a lot better than I’ve done in the past and that’s what motivated me to get back up again.”
Another Australian John-Patrick Smith, a qualifier, fell 6-4 7-5 in his first round clash with German eighth seed Mischa Zverev.