Alex de Minaur of Australia celebrates winning a point during his first round match against Steve Johnson of the USA at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament in Brisbane, Sunday, December 31, 2017. (AAP Image/Darren England) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Alex de Minaur of Australia celebrates winning a point during his first round match against Steve Johnson of the USA at the Brisbane International Tennis Tournament in Brisbane, Sunday, December 31, 2017. (AAP Image/Darren England) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Young Aussie impresses in upset win

TENNIS: A delighted Alex de Minaur has announced himself on the big stage with an impressive victory over American Steve Johnson at the Brisbane International.

Wildcard de Minaur, who turns 19 in February and is ranked 208th in the world, won 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 against Johnson, ranked 164 places above him.

"It's the best way to finish off the year," de Minaur said.

"I couldn't ask for more. I played a great match today, I beat a high quality opponent and I'm stoked.

"I showed how I can play today and it's all about maintaining that level."

The small crowd who stayed for the opening day's final match on Pat Rafter Arena were treated to a display of guts and determination from de Minaur.

They got right behind the Sydney-born, Spain-based youngster as he sent down an ace to force the first-set tiebreaker and withstood Johnson's considerable pressure and changes of pace to prevail.

It was a coming-out party for de Minaur.
It was a coming-out party for de Minaur.

"It's great to have the home support and everyone just backing you after every single point," de Minaur said.

"I really appreciate it and I can't wait for more."

De Minaur let out several screams of "C'mon!" reminscent of those which became a trademark of Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, who watched the match from his player's box.

The similarities did not end there, with the diminutive de Minaur showing a striking ability to wear his opponent down and find extra fight when he needed it.

After being broken in the second set, he broke back immediately to level the score at four games apiece and then won the next game to love before converting his second match point with a brilliant backhand down the line.

De Minaur will have the chance to show his considerable ability at the Australian Open after winning last month's wildcard playoff, which he said had given him a timely confidence boost.

But first, a second-round encounter with No.4 seed and 2016 Brisbane champion Milos Raonic awaits.

"Next up I've got a quality opponent so I'm going to look forward to battling it out with him and seeing what I can do there," de Minaur said.

"It's a player that you watch on TV all the time so it's going to be lots of fun to actually get on court and play with him and I'm going to give it my all and we'll see what happens."

In the other men's main draw match Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov upset No.6 seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

Queensland's John-Patrick Smith reached the main draw by winning his second-round qualifying match against Viktor Galovic of Croatia 6-4, 3-6. 7-6 (7-2).



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