Alex de Minaur Shows Fighting Spirit In Second Round Win
Alex de Minaur has won a five-set thriller against Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen to progress to the Australian Open third round for the first time.
The 19-year-old Sydneysider looked in trouble heading to a deciding set but rallied in front of a raucous home crowd to triumph 6-4 6-2 6-7 (9-7) 4-6 6-3.
"That was definitely pretty special," de Minaur said of the round-two win that has set up a showdown with 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal.
"The support was amazing as always, you guys got me through that."
It could have been a quicker night for de Minaur, who had a match point in the third set tiebreak but couldn't convert in a 28-shot rally.
Laaksonen seized momentum into the fourth set against a flatlining de Minaur, who appeared to be feeling the effects of a gruelling title win in lead-up tournament Sydney.
In a match that twisted and turned, De Minaur broke early in the fifth set to go ahead 2-0 but Laaksonen hit back to level at 2-all.
But the Aussie 27th seed secured the crucial break in the eight game before holding his nerve to serve out the match.
"I mentally reset for the last set and tried not to get down myself and be positive and fight every ball," de Minaur said.
His reward for the round-two win in three hours and 52 minutes is another grand slam showdown against Nadal, who beat the teenager in the third round at Wimbledon last year.
Nadal breezed past de Minaur's countryman Matt Ebden 6-3 6-2 6-2 earlier on Wednesday.
"It's going to be incredible, just to step out there on court with him," de Minaur said.
"I can't wait to go out there."