Alex de Minaur has the game to break into the world’s top 10 and have a serious chance of ending the host nation’s Australian Open men’s title drought, according to Lleyton Hewitt.
Ash Barty ended a 44-year drought by winning the women’s crown in 2022, but no Australian has won a major on home soil since Mark Edmondson in 1976.
Hewitt came close in 2005 when he lost the final to Russian Marat Safin, while Pat Cash finished second in consecutive years in 1987-88.
De Minaur reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park in each of the last two years and has since risen to a career-best ranking of 11th in the world.
To end the Open drought, de Minaur is expected to end the dominance of ten-time champion Novak Djokovic.
“He definitely has a chance,” Davis Cup captain Hewitt told reporters at the launch of the 2024 Australian Open on Wednesday.
“He can do some pretty special things and I have full confidence, every time he shows up for me in the Davis Cup, that he can beat anyone.
“He’s put himself in a ranking position where he’s going to give himself a chance.
“You’re never going to be able to win one of those first two rounds easily, but he’ll be ready for those.
“If he can get away with it and not do too much physical damage to his body, I think he can attack deep.”
Australian fans have responded to Hewitt’s courage throughout his decorated career, and the two-time Grand Slam champion sees similar qualities in de Minaur.
“I know deep down he would love nothing more than to have a really big race here (in Melbourne) and have the crowd behind him,” Hewitt said.
“They will feed off his determination and never-say-die attitude every time he goes out.”
De Minaur’s impressive season on the ATP Tour includes winning a seventh career title in Acapulco and three other finals appearances.
The 24-year-old is now on course to become the first Australian since Hewitt to break into the world’s top 10.
It is also the opportunity to make his first appearance at the prestigious ATP Tour Finals, which will be held in Turin in November.
“He’s getting there. I always knew he was going to be in the top 10, I fully believed in it,” Hewitt said.
“I hope he will have the opportunity over the next few months to move into the top 10.”
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