Alex de Minaur is still searching for his first appearance in the second week of an Australian Open after losing to a near flawless effort from Italy’s Fabio Fognini in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday night.
The top ranked Australian men’s player was barely in the contest against the experienced and temperamental Italian, save for the first part of the first set where the pair went seven games without a break of serve.
Alex De Minaur was beaten in straight sets by Fognini.Credit:
De Minaur could not get any sort of ascendancy against the world No.17 who played almost flawless tennis in front of no spectators at Margaret Court Arena.
The 21-year-old has shown when at his best, like in the ATP Cup in 2020, he is a player who feeds off the home crowd quite a bit.
On top of de Minaur’s game faltering and Fognini controlling almost every single rally, that lack of crowd did not seem to help.
De Minaur had started the season in good form winning an ATP title at Antalya in Turkey before coming to Australia to quarantine ahead of the first grand slam of the year.
But he lost twice in admittedly tough matches at the ATP Cup against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Roberto Bautista Agut.
However, he bounced back from this in the first two rounds of the Australian Open with very impressive wins over Tennys Sandgren and Pablo Cuevas, both in straight sets.
Fognini was a considerable step up in class to both of those players. The Italian was impressive in the ATP Cup, beating Benoit Paire and Carreno Busta before falling to a red hot Russia and Andrey Rublev in the final.
De Minaur will learn a lot from what the 33-year-old Fognini did to him.
The No.16 seed was absolutely relentless against de Minaur, even having come off an epic five-set match against countryman Salvatore Caruso on Thursday night.
That match made headlines for the passionate argument both players got engaged in after Fognini’s win, but there was no sign at all of such temperamental behaviour on Saturday night.
Fognini almost exclusively hit with incredible depth and power to push de Minaur back behind the baseline and nullify his ability to attack the net.
He also moved de Minaur to each corner of the court expertly, and punished him with forehand and backhand winners at will.
The Italian broke de Minaur in the eighth game of the first set with that kind of play, but the local boy was able to break back when Fognini produced four unforced errors in a row.
Fognini broke again and served out the set regardless.
De Minaur’s serve deteriorated in the second set and when Fognini broke him there was visible frustration for the Australian.
He could be justified in feeling slightly miffed for the fact that Fognini’s ball striking remained at an extremely high level, and did not relent to give de Minaur time to stop defending or being rushed around the court.
Not even two foot faults in the third and final set could break Fognini’s concentration and momentum, nor could a wobble to lose serve at 5-2. He consigned de Minaur to his third elimination in an Australian Open third round.
Fognini has advanced to his fourth Australian Open fourth round where he will likely play Rafael Nadal, orBritain’s Cameron Norrie should he upset the Spaniard.
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