n teenager Alex De Minaur won the first set before going down to American Noah Rubin 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the Canberra ATP Challenger at the Canberra Tennis Centre on Monday. Photo: Jay CronanIt was the moment that highlighted the immense potential in n teenager Alex De Minaur.
Down 15-30 and 4-5 in the first set, the 16-year-old ended a long rally with a crisp backhand winner across the face of his American opponent Noah Rubin to the applause of the small crowd on court five at the Canberra Tennis Centre.
Those are the sort of elegant shots that carried De Minaur to the semi-finals of last year’s boys singles at the US Open.
De Minaur blitzed through the first set tie-break, but wasn’t able to hold off his more experienced rival in a agonising three-set loss in the opening round of the $75,000 Canberra ATP Challenger on Monday.
The 7-6, 2-6, 4-6 defeat will be used as a valuable lesson in the youngster’s development in making the leap from the junior ranks to the seniors.
“His experience helped him win this match today,” De Minaur said.
“I think at big times I crumbled a bit and didn’t play the right shots.
“I thought I played a good match, but playing against the big guys you can’t have moments where you lose focus.
“You have to be on top of your game the whole match and one little lapse can cost you a set.”
After breezing through the tie-break 7-0, De Minaur had his serve broken early in the second set as Rubin levelled the match.
It could have gone either way until De Minaur made a crucial mistake early in the third set.
“I came into the net and I had a volley I should have put away and he hit a pretty decent lob out of it,” De Minaur said.
“All the credit to him, but I should have finished off that volley and if I had made a good first serve I would have held.
“There’s a lot of positives I can take out of this match and I know I’m not that far away from these guys.”
De Minaur will now travel to Melbourne to contest the boys singles at the n Open.
“Last year was a big year for me in juniors and I started believing in myself,” he said.
“I’ll play more Futures this year and that will help me develop confidence and not make the cheap error in a point.”
It was better news for Maverick Banes, who breezed past Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the second round.
Banes was the only n to prevail on the opening day, with Daniel Nolan, Steven De Waard and Blake Mott all losing their first round matches.
Nolan was no match for seventh seed Evgeny Donskoy, De Waard went down to Frank Moser while No.2 seed Marcel Granollers prevailed against Mott.
The tournament’s highest-ranked n, Matthew Ebden, begins his campaign on Tuesday when he takes on Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
In other matches, top seed Paolo Lorenzi faces Stefano Napolitano in an all-Italian showdown, Santiago Giraldo goes up against Israel’s Dudi Sela and Croatia’s Ivan Dodig will be a tough opponent for local hope Dayne Kelly.
Canberra ATP Challenger: Round one: Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Jarryd Chaplin 3-6, 6-1, 6-4; Maverick Banes bt Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) 6-3, 6-4; Xin Gao (CHN) bt Hiroyasu Ehara (JPN) 6-1, 6-2; 7-Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) bt Daniel Nolan 6-1, 6-1; Frank Moser (GER) bt Steven De Waard 6-4, 6-3; 3-Daniel Munoz De Lanava (ESP) bt Sergey Betov 6-4, 6-3; Noah Rubin (USA) bt Alex De Minaur 6-7, 6-2, 6-4. 4-Marcel Granollers (ESP) bt Blake Mott 7-6, 6-3
Tuesday: Centre court: 10am: Quentin Halys (FRA) v 8-Taro Daniel (JPN). Not before 11.30am: Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) v Matthew Ebden. Followed by: 3-Sergey Betov (BLR)/Aliaksandr Bury (BLR) v Blake Ellis/Adam Walton. Not before 4pm: Dudi Sela (ISR) v 2-Santiago Giraldo (COL). Court 5: 10am: Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) v Andrew Whittington. Not before 11.30am: 1-Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) v Stefano Napolitano (ITA). Not before 2pm: 5-Ivan Dodig (CRO) v Dayne Kelly. Not before 4pm: Konstantinos Economidis (GRE)/Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) v Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP)/Daniel Munoz De La Nava (ESP). Court 7: 10am: Daniel Hobart v Max Purcell. Not before 11.30am: 6-Diego Schwartzman (ARG) v Alexei Popyrin. Not before 2pm: Daniel Hobart/Daniel Nolan v 4-Carsten Ball/Frank Moser (GER). Followed by: Hiroyasu Ehara (JPN)/Xin Gao (CHN) v Steven De Waard/Andrew Whittington.