Alex De Minaur is chuffed to have opened his 2021 season in style, claiming the first ATP title on offer for the year and his fourth overall with success at the Antalya Open in Turkey.
The Australian No. 1 was leading Alexander Bublik 2-0 in Wednesday’s final when the Kazakh retired injured just seven minutes into the match.
The 21-year-old world No. 23 dropped only one set for the week in a promising build-up to next month’s rescheduled Australian Open in Melbourne.
“I mean, it’s massive. At the start of the year that’s what you need,” De Minaur said after following up his semi-final win over second-seeded world No. 16 David Goffin in a somewhat anticlimactic title decider.
“Look, you never know what was going to happen. I knew I had put in a great pre-season, I was ready to compete.
“I just think I gave myself the best possible chance to go deep into this tournament and I’m happy how it finished.
“I got four matches — and today — so very happy with my level and I had some quality wins.”
De Minaur missed his home grand slam last year in shattering fashion, an abdominal strain forcing him out of the Open following an heroic ATP Cup campaign for Australia.
“It was a bittersweet moment last year so hopefully a year later I can come back stronger and hopefully have a great Aussie summer.
“I’m really looking forward to going back home and playing in front of a home crowd, that’s for sure.”
His stomach injury aside, the COVID-19 pandemic further stalled his progression last year, following a breakout three-title season in 2019, placing the Davis Cup star in long-time lockdown at his base in Spain.
But the fleet-footed baseliner, now the youngest player in the world’s top 25, came back with a vengeance when the Tour resumed.
De Minaur made a career-best charge to the US Open quarter-finals, upstaging a succession of heavy hitters en route to the last eight, then reached the final in Antwerp to finish ahead of Nick Kyrgios as Australia’s season-ending No. 1 for the second straight year.
Now he’s up and running once again in 2021.