Alex de Minaur hammers a forehand return.
Alex de Minaur hammers a forehand return. Andres Kudacki

Aussie teen eyes Open wildcard

AUSTRALIAN teenager Alex De Minaur has declared victory in the Australian Open tennis tournament wildcard play-off as the "ultimate goal” after storming into the final yesterday.

Too composed and resolute for junior US Open champion Omar Jasika, De Minaur streaked into the decider after trailing 3-6 0-1, claiming the next 10 games to turn the tide in their qualifying semi-final.

Unflappable from the baseline, De Minaur eventually eased to a 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-0 win as a frustrated Jasika faded.

De Minaur, 18, will face either top-seeded Alex Bolt or Marc Polmans in the final in Melbourne on Sunday, with the winner securing a main draw berth at the January 15-28 Australian Open.

"There'd be no better feeling than to win the wildcard,” De Minaur said.

"At the end of the day, if you win that (final), you deserve the wildcard.

"That's the ultimate goal in the next match.”

Lleyton Hewitt watches on from the sidelines.
Lleyton Hewitt watches on from the sidelines. JOE CASTRO

Watched by Lleyton Hewitt, Mark Woodforde, Jason Stoltenberg, Jordan Thompson and Thanasi Kokkinakis, Jasika held sway early to claim seven of the opening 10 games.

Up a break in the second set, the left-hander blasted winners from all points of the court.

But a change of tactics allowed De Minaur to completely dominate from then on.

"I started to be more aggressive,” the Spain-based New South Welshman said.

"I let him push me around the court a bit and I wasn't doing enough to get back into the points.

"I started to stand my ground on the baseline and hit a bit bigger off my backhand to his forehand to open him up over there because is backhand is so solid..

"I stayed composed and found a win to get my level back, which was good.”

Alex de Minaur hits a return from the back of the court.
Alex de Minaur hits a return from the back of the court. ANDREW GOMBERT

A protege of former world No 1 Hewitt, De Minaur said he would continue to base his game on the style which carried Hewitt to the top.

"I'm trying to resemble him especially the way I compete,” De Minaur said.

"He's very important to anyone at any time of their career because he's such a great mentor.

"He gives you a lot on and off the court.”

Australian duo Astra Sharma and Belinda Woolcock secured a place in the main draw in the Australian doubles by defeating Destanee Aiava and Tammi Patterson 6-1 3-6 10-3 in the play-off final.

Leo Schlink



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