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Tennis: Can Alex de Minaur take a step up in 2024?

Alex de Minaur reached the fourth of both the Australian Open and the US Open in 2023, but he will be hoping to do even better next year and challenge in the latter stages of a Grand Slam.

The 24-year-old Sydney native has reached round four in four of his last eight Grand Slam campaigns, but his best performance remains a run to the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows back in 2020.

And the big question now is can De Minaur find the improvements needed to try and join the ranks of those hoping the challenge Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz at the pinnacle of the game?

He is 67.00 to win the home Slam in 2024, while he can be backed at 67.00 to go all the at the US Open.

What2024 Australian Open
WhereMelbourne Park, Melbourne
WhenMonday 15th - Saturday 28th January 2024
How to watchNine Network, Stan Sport
OddsMen: Novak Djokovic 2.25, Carlos Alcaraz 3.25, Daniil Medvedev 5.50
Women: Iga Swiatek 4.00, Aryna Sabalenka 6.00, Elena Rybakina 7.00

Fourth round proves to be a big barrier

2023 got off to a good start for De Minaur as he impressed on home soil at the Australian Open, reaching the last-32 before running into the juggernaut that is Djokovic and being swept away in straight sets.

A second-round exit at the French Open was no great surprise, but, having reached the final at Queen’s Club, going out at the same stage at Wimbledon was a major disappointment.

However, Matteo Berrettini was the runner-up at SW19 12 months earlier and was undoubtedly one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw, as he proved by also seeing off Alexander Zverev before losing in four sets to eventual champion Alcaraz.

The US Open saw De Minaur again look rock-solid all the way to a meeting with eventual runner-up Daniil Medvedev in round four, with the Russian overcoming the loss of the first set to win out 2-6 6-4 6-1 6-2.

Tour performances getting stronger

Away from the Slams, De Minaur added the Mexican Open title to his CV back in February, making it four ATP Tour final victories in a row.

However, a further three final appearances in 2023 would fail to yield another success, as he came up against top-class opponents each time.

At Queen’s he faced an inspired Alcaraz who would go on to show his grasscourt prowess by claiming the Wimbledon crown following an epic clash with Djokovic.

August saw De Minaur go all the way to the final at both the Los Cabos Open and the Canadian Open, with the latter a Masters 1000 event - the first of such status in which the Aussie had reached the final.

Stefanos Tsitspias was his conqueror back in Mexico, while Jannik Sinner proved too strong in Canada, with both losses coming in two straight sets.

However, the latter tournament did see De Minaur gain revenge over Medvedev in their fourth-round meeting, with the Aussie number one a hard-fought 7-6 7-5 victor.

Power remains a major issue

De Minaur is without doubt a fine player, blessed with superb touch and a tremendous amount of speed around the court, the question is, is that enough in the power-packed modern game?

The likes of Djokovic, Alcaraz and Medvedev have shown from the other side of the net that being able to hit through your opponent is a vital ability to have if you want to go all the way to the top.

The Aussie ace is not naturally blessed with that particular strength and it is hard to see how he can gain it, even with conditioning work to make him a harder ball-striker.

A current world ranking of 12 is undoubtedly impressive and points to the strong all-round game, but De Minaur perhaps does not have the power needed to take the extra steps towards Grand Slam success.

He is perhaps similar to Briton Cameron Norrie, who climbed as high as eight in the world rankings by the end 2022, but has slipped back to 17 in the current standings.

Although a lefty, Norrie has a game well-matched to that of De Minaur, but also struggles to contain the power of bigger, stronger opponents.

That deficit may prove to be too big an obstacle to clear if De Minaur wants to be a genuine Grand Slam contender in 2024.

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