World No.12 Alex de Minaur has squashed the prospect of facing his girlfriend Katie Boulter at the United Cup, saying he was in danger of being embarrassed if he took it up to her on the doubles court.
De Minaur and three-time grand slam quarter-finalist Ajla Tomljanovic are the headline acts for Australia at the mixed-teams event that kicks off in Perth and Sydney on Friday.
Matt Ebden and Storm Hunter are the likely candidates to represent the nation in the doubles.
Australia face a tough task to get out of a group that also includes Great Britain and the US.
Friday’s showdown against the British has the potential to pit de Minaur against GB’s world No.56 Boulter in the mixed doubles, but it seems the dream showdown won’t happen.
“I’m definitely not a doubles specialist,” de MInaur said during a trip to Rottnest Island on Wednesday.
“So it would definitely be Matty. I wouldn’t want to put myself out there and embarrass myself.
“It was a lot of fun (over Christmas with Katie). There was some chat here and there, giving each other a little bit of crap.
“We enjoyed it and it’s going be a very interesting experience.”
De Minaur has set his sights on cracking the singles top 10 in the coming season, with his summer training program tailored to beefing him up physically in order to contend for the Australian Open in January.
The 24-year-old won his second Newcombe Medal as Australia’s best player in 2023, for a year in which he claimed five top-10 scalps, won his seventh ATP Tour title and reached his maiden Masters 1000 decider.
He also made it through to the fourth round of the US Open and Australian Open, where he was beaten by eventual winner Novak Djokovic.
The United Cup provided the perfect launchpad for de Minaur’s successful 2023, with victory over Rafael Nadal kicking off his season.
He will be up against world No.18 Cameron Norrie when Australia take on Great Britain on Friday night at Perth’s RAC Arena, and world No.10 Taylor Fritz in the battle against the US on Monday evening.
“He’s a great competitor,” de Minaur said of Norrie.
“We always have tough battles. He got me last year to start off the year, so hopefully I can get my revenge.”
This summer represents a farewell for 34-year-old cult hero John Millman, who will retire after the Australian Open.
Millman is part of the Australian team at the United Cup and he’s very clear on what his role will be during the tournament.
“I’m ready to cheerlead to the best of my abilities. I’ve been working on my dance moves and I’m ready to go,” Millman said with a smile.
“Alex is hitting the ball great. We had a good hit out yesterday.
“To be able to to share one last experience with one of my best mates is awesome. It’s something that I’m going to relish.”
The Australia team took a chopper on Wednesday to Rottnest where they enjoyed time on the beach and took selfies with the island’s famous quokkas.