’No more angst’: Aussie star ready to fight
It's been a tough few months for Alex de Minaur with the young Australian struggling with off-court issues. But true to form, he is adamant they've been dealt with ahead of his SW19 campaign.
The 25th seed was upset after losing to Aljaz Bedene at Queen's Club, partially attributing defeat to unspecified off-court concerns.
The Herald Sun understands the issue stems from the prodigy's support structure, but de Minaur will not confirm what the source of the angst is.
De Minaur will open his Wimbledon campaign against Italian Marco Cecchinato, a rematch of the pair's first-round clash here a year ago.
He says his mindset is more positive now.
"It's sort of something (off-court distraction) that happens as a tennis player, and a lot of sports," he said.
"If you want to perform, you've gotta have your mind 100 per cent clear and focused on just going out there and playing tennis.
"I mean, tennis is a hard enough sport as it is (without) having other things in your mind.
"So I'm very happy the state I am right now, and can't wait to get out there and play my first round.
"You still sort of feel that aura, that rich history, tradition as soon as you walk into the gates.
"It's just amazing. And as a tennis player, this is where you wanna be.
"It doesn't get too much better than this.
"You work hard all the year, you put in a tough pre-season, you put in all those years of just hard work and dedication to get to play tournaments like these.
"It's pretty special and it definitely motivates you."
Fully recovered from osteitis pubis, de Minaur is steeling himself for a brutal onslaught from French Open semi-finalist Cecchinato.
"It's gonna be tough, because obviously we know each other and he's gonna come (out) guns blazing," de Minaur said.
"But I feel like I'm playing very well, I'm moving well, enjoying myself out there.
"So if I can focus on my side of the court and hopefully be able to perform on the day, I'll just make sure I'll give 150 per cent and that's all I can ask from myself."
AUSSIES ON THE UP
WIN or lose, Pat Cash is convinced Alexei Popyrin is on an upward grand slam curve - and learning quickly.
Co-opted into Popyrin's camp to work alongside the teenager's regular coach Philipp Wagner, Cash said he is impressed by the lanky baseliner's work ethic and tennis smarts.
"He's done a fantastic job, it is exciting," Cash said ahead of Popyrin's first-round Wimbledon clash with Pablo Carreno-Busta.
"I haven't been working with him for a long time, but he's improved a lot.
"He's really got the grasp of it. There's still plenty of work to do.
"There were things that needed to be fixed on the grass and he's gone a long way towards that.
"He's a very quick learner and I've been pretty impressed by that.
"He's a good kid, he works hard."
Cash is a student of pressure fluctuations in matches and believes tiebreaks are the best gauge of temperament.
"This kid can play pressure and he's a great athlete," Cash said.
"There are two things you can improve but you kinda almost have it or you don't.
"He's got some technical things - and bits and bobs - to fix up and really it didn't matter if he didn't win a match on grass for the whole season.
"I look through his results and when you're winning tiebreakers, that's a good sign - even when you're losing matches.
"It's a good sign of being able to play under pressure."
Cash says failure or success against Carreno-Busta is irrelevant.
"It doesn't matter, he's here for experience," Cash said.
"Sure, it would be great to have a good draw and have a win but it would be just as exciting to draw Federer and centre court.
"We want all the experience we can get."
WHO PLAYS WHEN?
Alexei Popyrin v Pablo Carrena-Busta (Spa)
25-Alex de Minaur v Marco Cecchinato (Ita)
Nick Kyrgios v Jordan Thompson
John Millman v Hugo Dellien (Bol)
Matt Edben v 24-Diego Schwartzman (Arg)
Bernard Tomic v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra)