Pat Rafter expresses support for Alex de Minaur as he aims to contend for major championships prior to the Australian Open.

Tennis legend Pat Rafter is convinced that the buzz surrounding Alex de Minaur is genuine and that the talented Australian has the potential to reach the final of the Australian Open. Anticipation is growing as de Minaur kicks off the season’s first major, armed with impressive victories over Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, and Taylor Fritz in the United Cup. These notable wins have propelled the 24-year-old into the world’s top 10 for the first time, just in time for the Melbourne Park tournament, which starts on January 14. Rafter, a former world number one and two-time US Open winner, sat down with de Minaur last year to discuss ways to advance beyond his five fourth-round and one quarter-final appearances at the majors. Rafter, who lost two Wimbledon finals and reached the semi-finals in Melbourne, believes that de Minaur is now ready to make his mark at the most prestigious tennis tournaments. “When he beat Zverev, I realized that this kid is really getting it,” Rafter told AAP. “To defeat Zverev when he’s at his best and now he’s in the world’s top 10… I’m genuinely surprised that he has only reached one quarter-final so far. I expected him to do better than that, and I believe his time is now – now he can reach the semi-finals and finals, for sure.” These are the heights that de Minaur is determined to achieve. “That’s definitely the dream,” de Minaur said in Melbourne on Monday. “All the hard work that I’ve put in comes down to performing well and going deep in the Grand Slams. It has been my goal for a while now to push through and reach the second week of the majors, and that’s exactly where I want to be. I’ve had a great preparation, and hopefully, I can deliver the same level of play once the tournament begins. Not only in two-set matches, but to maintain that level throughout the entire four or five hours if necessary.” De Minaur has been motivated by those who doubt his ability to compete with the best players in the sport. However, Rafter believes that his progress has not come from physical strength gains. “If anything, he has become slightly more patient,” Rafter asserted. “He backs himself more, makes fewer mistakes, and gives himself a better chance to stay in rallies. Alex has attempted to hit the ball really hard and powerfully. I think he just needed to take a step back and be a little more patient.” De Minaur attributes his recent rise to his mindset and mentality, as well as making subtle improvements and playing with more aggression and variety. “Belief plays a significant role,” de Minaur stated. “Believing in myself, believing that I am good enough to defeat these guys, and proving it.” De Minaur leads a group of 10 Australians in the top 111 rankings, a feat that has not been achieved since 1998 when eight Aussies, including Rafter, finished inside the top 100. “We felt it, and we had so much fun. These guys don’t know how much fun we had,” Rafter reflected. “We supported each other and challenged one another.”

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