Alex de Minaur got his 2021 off to a flyer beating Malek Jaziri 2-6 1-6 at the Antalya Open.
It was the perfect start for the young Aussie, who’s last outing came in the quarterfinals of the European Open over two months ago.
It took him no time getting back into the swing of things showing off his ever-familiar lightning-quick pace and counter-attacking gameplay during the first set.
Meanwhile, his opponent, 36-year-old Malek Jaziri, looked to utilise his untamed power to push de Minaur back behind his baseline.Embed from Getty Images
But it was almost much too power and not enough precision that cost the Tunisian some vital points.
Winning just 44% of points on his first service, the Tunisian failed to keep the ball in play, sweeping wild forehands beyond de Minaur’s baseline and into the net.
In comparison, de Minaur was much more clinical. The Australian lost only 7 points on serve and kept a clean sheet conceding 0 breakpoints to the Tunisian.
And the Australian showed his intent to go deeper in tournaments this year, getting out of the blocks quickly to break Jaziri in the first game.
It was his pinpoint accuracy that allowed him to keep the Tunisian at bay, stringing together some delightful cross-court shots that his opponent struggled to recover.
Jaziri got one back soon after but looked shaky on serve, after almost gifting Minaur a breakpoint as he struck a shot well over the baseline.
But de Minaur showed his composure.
After a couple of long rallies at 1-3, the young Aussie played a blinding ground shot to his opposer’s tramline breaking the Tunisian for the second time in the match.
Jaziri managed to win just four return points compared to dominant de Minaur’s 14. That’s how clinical the Australian was, and he didn’t stop there.
The Aussie got up to full speed late in the first set, as the Tunisian looked to work him at the back of the court, and de Minaur’s relentless return game earnt him another break at 1-3.Embed from Getty Images
De Minaur then squandered three chances to break the Tunisian and win the set. And that gave Jaziri a ray of hope to claw his way back into the game, force a deuce and quel de Minaur’s attack.
But the Aussie fought back and again failed to capitalise on three set points, allowing the Tunisian to hold him to deuce. But it was another mistake from Jaziri that finally gave Alex de Minaur the game and the first set.
When Jaziri got his serve right, it was lethal, and he used it well to claim back the advantage from a threatening de Minaur at the start of the second set.
But the Australian moved into second gear and got his first break of the second set and went 1-2 up after Jaziri double-faulted again on serve.
Alex de Minaur ploughed on, serving out the next game and eased into control, forcing another ground shot fault from the Tunisian to go 1-3 up.
ATP250 Antalya Open main singles draw pic.twitter.com/IxUwX9FamA— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) January 5, 2021
And although on the ropes, Jaziri still fought hard to stop his opponent’s advances.
Again he tested de Minaur’s bolting pace behind the baseline. But the Aussie cooly returned shots on each tramline to gain his 7th breakpoint of the match.
Jaziri hit back and forced a deuce, but he couldn’t hold his cool against de Minaur’s draining return game, and gifted de Minaur a breakpoint to go 1-4 up.
Alex de Minaur cruised to the finish, and closed in on the net during the final game, smashing a driving volley to break his opponent and win the match.
It was a professional display of intent for de Minaur, who will play 19-year-old Adrian Andreev in the next round.
Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini beat Ergi Kirkin 6-0 6-4 and David Goffin was taken to three sets by Pierre-Hugues Herbert, winning 3-6 7-5 6-0.
Featured image: Alex de Minaur by cedarsx // https://www.flickr.com/photos/101129090@N06/45928684015 // Licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Download permissions