Demon’s rise can’t be ignored in Newcombe race
AN ability to avoid making the same mistake twice is behind Alex de Minaur's drive to the Australian No.1 ranking, the teen headliner believes.
De Minaur, 19, this month received the ATP's Newcomer of the Year award for a season in which he rose from No.208 to No.31 in the world rankings.
And his Davis Cup teammate John Millman believes a second honour should be coming his way on Monday night, when Tennis Australia's best player award is presented.
De Minaur was hailed as a "gift to Australian tennis'' by Rod Laver after ending his breakthrough season with a loss in the final of the Next Gen ATP Finals in Italy.
De Minaur said his breakout Australian circuit last summer, in which he made the semi-finals of the Brisbane International and the final of the Sydney International, gave him a self-belief at ATP level which he has maintained.
"You have to learn from your mistakes every year that you are on tour,'' de Minaur said in an interview with the ATP.
"You need to learn new things. I think I've done that really well. I don't make the same mistakes over again.
"A lot of it is believing in yourself. That's something I found out. Then you have to back it up week after week.
"In a way nothing has changed. I'm still the same, you know? I just get to live this amazing life and do the thing that I love.''
De Minaur joined three other finalists, Ash Barty, Millman and Dylan Alcott, in consideration for TA's 2018 Newcombe Medal, to be presented in Melbourne.
Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic are again glaring omissions from a list of players attending the function.
On a pure ranking basis, Barty warrants the medal with her career-high No.15 ranking and also boasts two WTA titles for 2018.
But Barty's fellow Queenslander Millman said the scale of de Minaur's rise warrants full consideration from Newcombe Medal judges.
"Ash should have a great chance. She won the Ashley Cooper Medal too and I have a lot of time for her,'' Millman said.
"I'll play devil's advocate and say that I don't think Alex can be overlooked. His ranking improvement was an incredible thing to do. He has made a couple of ATP finals (Washington DC and Next Generation Finals).
"I didn't predict his meteoric rise and I can't tell the average fan how hard it is to climb up the rankings that fast.''
Australian No.2 Millman said his back injury was improving after an injection and he was positive about returning to practice late next week in Brisbane.
De Minaur, Kyrgios, Millman and Queenslander Jason Kubler are among those invited to an Australian Davis Cup squad training camp in Brisbane early next month to step up summer circuit preparations.