While he didn’t have to go the distance, home hope Alex De Minaur says he took plenty from his Australian Open clash with Milos Raonic, who retired mid-match.
De Minaur was gifted passage into the second round at Melbourne Park after the former world No.3 walked to the net early in the third set with the Australian on top 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 2-0.
The 33-year-old Canadian had left the court for medical treatment on a hip flexor issue while leading 5-4 in the first set and while he won that in a tie-break, the injury continued to affect his movement and serve.
Former great John McEnroe, in commentary, questioned whether the former Wimbledon finalist Raonic would again be seen at the Open.
Raonic had a horrible run of injuries and illness between 2021 and 2023, missing nine grand slams with Achilles, back, glutes, ankle, calf and knee injuries, a broken toe plus COVID- 19.
De Minaur said he was happy with the way he stayed composed in the face of the booming Raonic serve, with the Canadian sending down a dozen aces.
The top-ranked Australian upped his own service game in the second set with five aces, winning 93 per cent of his first serve points and went unbroken against his hulking rival.
“No matter what the situation is I stayed calm and collected,” the 24-year-old said.
“A five-set match means there’s always a long way to go so it doesn’t matter what you’re position you’re in, I believe in myself to change the situation.
“I do believe I lost the first set when I got tight but it’s five sets so I told myself to recoup and start again for the second.
“As you saw I was chasing his serve for the better part of that match – guessing every now and again.
“I just focused on myself in the second set, had to restart and managed to jag a break out of the blue and change the momentum.”
De Minaur, who broke into the world top 10 last week, felt for his opponent.
“I hope he has a speedy recovery – it’s not great to see him like this,” he said.
“He deserves to be healthy and playing incredible tennis that he has done for so many years so hopefully he is back in no time.”
The performance continues de Minaur’s hot start to the summer, with wins over world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the United Cup and second-ranked Carlos Alcaraz, albeit in an exhibition.
De Minaur has a seed-free path to the second week after big-serving Chilean world No.18 Nicolas Jarry was knocked out in the first round, suffering a 6-4 3-6 6-3 2-6 7-5 loss to qualifier Flavio Cobolli.
The Sydneysider, who next plays Italian Matteo Arnaldi, had been on track to meet Jarry in the third round.
Instead, the earliest he could face a seed, pending any upsets, is in week two against either world No.5 Andrey Rublev or 29th seed Sebastian Korda.