Alex De Minaur Grows Up

Alex De MinaurGrows Up

The Demon syncs his mind and body.

The Demon syncs his mindand body.

By Giri NathanMarch 8, 2024

Alex De Minaur works off In-N-Out burgers at Indian Wells / David Bartholow

Alex De Minaur works off In-N-Out burgers at Indian Wells / David Bartholow

We might look back at this season as the one where the 25-year-old Alex De Minaur grew up, and grew into his tennis. In January, at home in Australia, he made the top 10, territory I thought might always elude him. I can’t call to mind an alleged six-footer with a more 5-foot-9 presence on the court. The speed was always there; nobody on tour would ever doubt the Demon in a footrace. But it didn’t always seem that his mind and his body were in alignment. I sometimes felt like I was watching a player with the game plan of a big hitter and the actual physical tools of a Gilles Simon-esque grinder. De Minaur used his speed to set up his hyper-flat attacks, but lacked the power to make those attacks to hurt the best opponents…and then he’d have to run around and hit more balls. Those flat strokes and tireless chase-downs made for fun highlights and occasional upsets, but they had only once put him in the second week of a major. He looked like a top 20 player, which is what he’d been, until very recently.

The Australian has recently put a noticeable amount of meat on his bones; that’s got to be grueling work for someone of his build undergoing the grind and caloric drain of tour life. In a 2023 interview he said that he’d gained four or five kilograms since 2019, and he looks a little beefier still than he did last year. Now there’s a lot more pop on his ground strokes and the serve. As proof, the ur-returner Novak Djokovic managed to win only one point off his first serve in a loss to De Minaur in January. (De Minaur has won 66.0 percent of service points so far this year, up from 64.0 percent in 2023 and 62.5 percent in 2022, per Tennis Abstract. These tiny margins are everything in tennis.) This new and improved Demon made it to the final in Rotterdam, losing to Jannik Sinner, perhaps the only guy on tour who’s having a more auspicious start to the year than him. Then, in Acapulco, he proved himself better than his neighbors in the third tier of players on tour, taking out Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lie on either side of his No. 10 ranking. That was his second straight Acapulco title.

It’s what this wholesome fellow De Minaur did immediately after winning that tournament that really elevates this story to peak wholesomeness. As he described it: He won the Acapulco final, finished media at 1 a.m., stayed up to pack, and got on a 6:20 a.m. flight to Tijuana, then crossed the border to San Diego, arriving around 10:30 a.m., to watch his girlfriend Katie Boulter play her first 500-level final that day. In a testament to the logistical hellishness of dating across pro tennis tours, this was the first time De Minaur had caught one of her matches live, two years into their relationship.

Good fortune must be contagious, because the 27-year-old Boulter had the best week of her tennis life. Heading into the tournament, she had managed nine wins over top 50 opponents over her career; she picked up five more such wins in San Diego alone, including the tournament’s second, seventh, third, and sixth seeds. When she’s really letting her forehand rip, it’s utterly commanding and hypnotic. Boulter took on an in-form Marta Kostyuk in the final, with De Minaur looking on in the stands. By set 2 it was clearly going to be a godly forehand day for the Brit. She held up her end of the deal, and the couple secured matching 500-level titles last weekend. They celebrated at In-N-Out. Boulter is now at a career-high ranking of No. 27, which will earn her seeds at big tournaments for the first time. Their careers are rising in unison. There will be no repeated dual magic in Indian Wells—Boulter bowed out in the first round—but at least they can still go to In-N-Out if they want.


The Hopper

—Simona Halep appealed her doping ban…and won.

—A pre-Wimbledon WTA event may return to the The Queens Club.

—Taylor Fritz is with Hugo Boss now.

—Rafael Nadal’s comeback stalls—yet again—at Indian Wells.

—The self-described Taste of Tennis interviews
Maria Timofeeva and Jonny Levine on the Craig Shapiro Tennis Podcast.

—ICYMI: Vicente Muñoz’s postcard from Buenos Aires.

—Brittani Sonnenberg’s report from the Austin Open.

—The Reebok Pump is back.