If a year grinding on tour has taught Alex De Minaur anything, it’s to take a nap whenever he gets a chance.
With that in mind it’s likely you’ll find the 19-year-old resting in bed on Saturday, having lost a quality quarter-final against a rejuvenated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Brisbane on Friday night.
The world No.31 is expected to rise two spots despite not replicating his audacious semi-final run of 12 months earlier at the Brisbane International.
It was then, ranked outside the world’s top 200, that he caught the eye of the tennis public before surging to become the country’s highest-ranked male player by year’s end.
— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) January 5, 2019
Tsonga – a 2008 Australian Open finalist – wound back the clock to beat de Minaur 6-4 7-6(2) on Pat Rafter Arena as he continued his promising return following a seven-month injury hiatus last year.
De Minaur lamented a handful of missed opportunities that came amid a barrage of Tsonga winners, but he chalked it up as another valuable lesson against a red-hot opponent as he prepares for next week’s Sydney International, where he made the final last year, and the Australian Open later this month.
“I’m continuously learning and that’s something that’s never going to change for me,” he said.
Learning to deal with the pressure of expectation is top of the list and something the fleet-footed De Minaur reckons he’s got his head around.
“The expectations are always going to be there; it’s something I’m going to have to learn to live with,” he said.
“You put it in the back of your head and focus on what you enjoy, what your passion is and that’s playing tennis.
“Knowing I’m mentally and physically fresh that’s when I’m playing my best.”
That’s why he will likely have his feet up on Saturday, having done what he could to run 33-year-old Tsonga off his on Friday.
“A lot of my time is spent in the hotel lying in bed trying to conserve as much energy as I can, because whenever I step out on court there’s so much I leave out there,” he said.
“I play such a physical game I’m trying to save my legs as much as I can.”