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January 15, 2022

Alex De Minaur

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Alex, you are the top Australian at the Australian Open. How do you see your first-round match against Lorenzo Musetti?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, it's another year playing this amazing tournament. Very excited to start 2022.

And, yeah, it's going to be a tough match. He's a quality young guy, a lot of weapons. It's going to be a tough match. I've got to try and focus on my side of the court and do everything I've been doing as of late. Hopefully I can come out and play some good tennis.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Obviously a really promising return back to form in Sydney. You've had a little bit of time to digest that. Do you feel like you are starting to get back in your groove again and make a run at things this Open?

ALEX de MINAUR: Yeah, I feel like it's definitely been a difference since last year. I've been able to kind of have a very good pre-season, work on myself and aspects of my game that I felt needed improving, and being able to come out of the blocks playing exactly the type of tennis that I want to be playing.

Very, very good start to the year. Now it's all about maintaining that. Hopefully I can keep on delivering that sort of tennis which I think I can deliver week in and week out.

Q. The third round is the furthest you've been here. Is the goal at least to get to the round of 16 and see how you go from there?

ALEX de MINAUR: It's always the goal to go deeper and deeper, keep achieving more goals.

But, yeah, like any other year, I'm taking it very slowly, step by step, trying to focus on myself. I know my level's there, so it's just about stepping out on court and showing that.

Take it day by day, like I've done my whole career. We'll take it one match at a time.

Q. The defending champion may or may not get to play here. That's obviously swirling around. From your perspective, do you think the kind of strengths that he shows on court, his stubbornness, determination, could be playing against him in the court process beyond tennis?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, I mean, at the end of the day we don't know barely anything about what's happening. Every day it feels like there's new information. As the rest of the public, we don't know what's happening.

He's been doing what he's been doing. Hopefully soon enough we'll have a decision either one way or the other.

Q. Do you have to be a single-minded person to be able to win that many major tournaments. Do you think the mentality that it takes to be that prolific as a champion might be hurting him a little bit when it comes to the law?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, I think him winning 20 slams doesn't make him act one way or the other off the court. He's an incredible athlete. He's done amazing things in the sport of tennis.

But at the end of the day you can be a completely different personality off the court. It doesn't correlate from when you step on the court and when you're off the court.

Whatever he does off the court is up to him, his judgment.

Q. The case against Djokovic has changed quite dramatically overnight. Now it's really not about the question of the exemption. The allegation against Djokovic is that his presence in Australia could stir up anti-vaccine sentiment and undermine the entire pandemic response. It's a very serious allegation, in some ways very far removed from tennis. What is your sense of how we've gotten here and what it means for professionals who are moving around the world in this pandemic?

ALEX de MINAUR: Well, I think first of all, this whole situation has taken a lot of spotlight away from us competitors. We're here to play the Australian Open. We're here on our own terms ready to compete, hopefully have a very good couple weeks.

It feels like it's taking away from us competitors who just want to start. We're just eager to go out and compete. The Australian Open is always an incredible event, my home slam, my favorite tournament.

To be honest, I'm just ready to put all of this behind me and focus on playing my tennis matches, kind of let my tennis do the talking.

At the end of the day tennis is an individual sport and we've all been here in Australia for a while getting ready for this tournament. We all just want to get on with our own stuff. That's basically it.

Q. Is it your sense that really Djokovic is the author of his own demise here?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, Australians have gone through a lot. There's no secret about that. They've had it very tough. They've done a lot of work to protect themselves and their borders.

When you're coming in, as well as every other tennis player, if you wanted to come into the country, you had to be double vaccinated. It was up to him, his choices, his judgment.

Here we are.

Q. Late last year you took a fair few losses, had a couple of tight ones against Zverev, Tsitsipas. How big was the ATP Cup in giving you that confidence again and changing the mindset leading into the Open?

ALEX de MINAUR: It was very important. It's no secret that last year I had a little bit of a slump after COVID. Didn't have the results I wanted to. Confidence-wise I was a bit low.

I felt as soon as I was able to kind of put that year behind me, even Davis Cup, I was able to really turn a corner both mentality-wise and kind of confidence-wise. I was able to have two battles out there. It really kind of -- I was able to bring out a part of me that I had forgotten about for a while.

After that we were able to get straight back onto the practice court, have a very tough pre-season. It's just great to see the hard work paying off at the ATP Cup, coming out and playing some great tennis against quality opponents, starting off my Aussie summer very well.

It's a very good feeling, a very good confi boost coming into the Open.

Q. How big a part of being a top tennis player is it negotiating those highs and lows, finding a way to get through them?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, it's a bit like life. You're going to have highs, you're going to have lows. It's about how you deal with them, how you get back up towards the highs.

Look, a lot of work mentally has to be done for you to stay on top of that. You got to stay positive. That's the mindset. Only positive vibes going into 2022. Whatever happens, I'm putting myself out there in the best possible position to perform. Whatever happens will happen.

But, yeah, just got to stay positive.

Q. You spoke a bit about the difficulties that your fellow Australians have faced. For the audiences around the world, how would you describe the way the country has handled the situation and also now the Djokovic situation?

ALEX de MINAUR: Look, I'll only comment on how tough the Australians have had it throughout this whole pandemic.

A lot of my teammates, for example, John Millman, he's had to leave their home basically in February and only get to come back in December. They spent 10, 11 months on the road without being able to go back home because of quarantine and other issues.

For any human being that's tough. But for us tennis players, we travel so much throughout the year. Indeed, Australia is pretty far away from the rest of the world in that aspect. In a normal year we got to spend a lot of time on the road. We don't get to spend too much time at home.

For these guys to have to play week in and week out on the road without being able to come back home, it's pretty tough. I tried to help out the Aussies however I could by having them stay over in Spain for them to have a little bit of kind of a home away from home.

Having these guys have to compete, not being able to go home, it was incredibly tough for them to keep playing. I mean, they've done amazing. There's other players that have sacrificed four weeks of their year spent in a hotel room quarantining. People who have decided to come back, they've had to spend those two weeks in a hotel room.

It's been by far the toughest for Aussies throughout this whole pandemic. I think they need to be given a lot of appreciation, a pat on the back for still being out there and still competing, still showing what tennis in Australia is all about.

Q. I wanted to ask you about coming into this season whether you've made any changes to your support team, how many members of that group you have, and what is sort of your philosophy on what role they play as a group with you as a professional tennis player?

ALEX de MINAUR: Well, I haven't made any changes. I've got my long time coach, Adolfo Gutierrez, who I've been with now 12, nearly 13 years. I have my physio with me. It is the first time he's traveled here to Australia. It's pretty exciting for him.

I think one of the most important things is just having a close team around you who you trust completely. You know they have your best interests in their hearts. For a tennis player who has to deal with a lot on the court, if you've got that solid team of guys around you that help you get on with life and everything that you need to do off the court, it just makes it so much easier for the player.

As of right now, the only thing I've got to focus on is chasing a tennis ball around the court, which at times can be difficult enough. You don't need any more troubles off the court.

I've got a great team of guys around me. They're constantly pushing me to improve and get better. I think it's going to be a very beautiful journey that we're going to get on together to hopefully keep on pushing and get higher and higher every day.

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