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Demon lands in Melbourne ‘stronger’ than ever

Alex de Minaur has declared the deeper his matches go at the Australian Open the better because he’s a “little bit stronger” both physically and mentally for the 2024 campaign and his results are showing it.

Having breached the world’s top 10 for the first time on the back of his stunning United Cup take-down of both Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, de Minaur stepped up his preparation for the opening grand slam of 2024 on Monday with a practice session on Rod Laver Arena.

While not unfamiliar with the No.1 court at Melbourne Park, it looms as his home when the tournament begins next week with his opening matches likely to take centre stage.

The 25-year-old is better placed than ever to go deep into the Open, having never been further than the fourth round.

He only has one quarter-final appearances from his 25 grand slams and the expectations have never been as high as this year given his glowing recent form.

They are expectations de Minaur is keen to not just meet, but exceed and he knows he’s done the hard yards to leave him as well prepared as he could hope for, and prepared to take it up to the world’s best players for as long as it takes to beat them.

“All the work that I put in, ultimately it comes down to performing at the slams and going deep at the slams,” he said on Monday.

“That’s been a goal of mine for a while now, trying to push in, push second week of slams and deep end of these tournaments and it’s exactly where I want to be.

“I’ve had a great prep and hopefully I can show the same level I have when the tournament starts.

“Not just to do it in two-set matches, to bring it for a whole four, five hours if need be.”

There’s a bulging contingent of male Australian players now both inside the world’s top 100 and at the Open with another 11 hoping to win their way into the main draw through qualifying.

That’s without injured superstar Nick Kyrgios leaving de Minaur to lead the charge with a renewed sense of belief his game is good enough to deliver the home success he craves.

“I’ve added little improvements here and there to my game,” he said.

“I’ve gotten a little bit stronger. I’m playing a little bit more aggressive, with a bit more variety.

“But ultimately, a lot is belief: believing in myself, believing that I am good enough to beat these guys and proving it.”

The Australian Open will begin on Sunday, with an extra day included to avoid a backlog of late-night games.

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