Published: Sun, January 12, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Alex de Minaur exposes stunning reality of Nadal-Djokovic rivalry

Alex de Minaur exposes stunning reality of Nadal-Djokovic rivalry

De Minaur had a furious start, breaking Nadal in the opening game of the match and then keeping the pressure on, restricting the Spaniard's trademark forehand to take the first set in 46 minutes.

Kyrgios was a shadow of the player who had racked up a 3-0 singles record and decisive doubles win at the teams tournament, going down on Saturday night to the Spanish No.2, 6-1 6-4. However, he was pushed by Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the final eight and won an epic encounter against Russian Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal weathered an early barrage before beating Australia's Alex de Minaur 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to clinch Spain's semi-final win yesterday and secure a spot in today's decider against Serbia.

Nikola Čačić and Viktor Troicki rounded the match off by defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili and Konstantin Kravchuk 6-4, 7-6 (9-7).

Djokovic had planned to use the hard-court tournament in South Australia, starting Sunday, as a final tune-up for the Australian Open Grand Slam, which begins a week from Monday.

De Minaur rose to a career-high 18th in the world after winning his third title of the year in Zhuhai in October, but said he felt he played some of the best tennis of his life over the last week.

'It was exciting, exhausting, joyful, awful all at once, ' said Djokovic on the tournament's website.

Djokovic got the pivotal break in a long fifth game after a protracted rally ended in an exchange of volleys and drop shots. For a moment we both refused to miss the starting point, so it was very rallying and very exhausting. Very physical battle, but also mental battle ... some fantastic points.

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Reigning Australian Open champion Djokovic came through an engrossing three-setter with US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev.

"But it has been a very emotional evening and a pleasure playing here", said Nadal. He got back on level terms but, serving to stay in the set in the 12th game, he netted a exhausted looking forehand, served a double-fault to give Medvedev a set point.

"He changed his game plan a bit more", De Minaur said.

Kyrgios showed glimpses of his former bad boy self as shouted at the Australian bench and smashed a racquet in the straight-sets loss to Bautista Agut.

"(It) was definitely one of the most interesting games I've played against him or any other top player in the last few years".

Doubles selection will likely come down to how the tie plays out, perhaps the ultimate result seeing the singles split so Nadal and Djokovic face off one more time for the road in Sydney. But Roberto played an unbelievable match this afternoon and we have a good team.

Tennis fans witnessed how even against an all-empowering Nadal at the Australian Open final past year, Djokovic Down Under can be next to unstoppable.

So, after being broken by de Minaur, he broke back immediately and then served out in 2hr 13min in front of nearly 9,500 people at Ken Rosewall Arena.

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