Alex De Minaur ‘loses all respect’ for Rafael Nadal as Aussie warns clay king | Tennis | Sport

Alex De Minaur revealed he ‘loses all respect’ for tennis legend Rafael Nadal when the pair are matched against each other. The Australian ace, who is competing at this week’s Miami Open, opened up about what it’s like to face Nadal and how matches against the King of Clay differ from other opponents.

Speaking on the latest episode of All on the Table, De Minaur spoke about his experience against Nadal during the third round of Wimbledon in 2018. He said: “So much physicality, even on the grass, so I can only imagine on a clay court. You have to lose all the respect you have for him and just play him as another player.”

De Minaur did bounce back from the Wimbledon loss and has previously tasted victory against the 22-time Grand Slam winner, beating him at the 2023 United Cup. It was the fourth time he’d played the great, and after losing all three prior meetings De Minaur triumphed 3-6 6-1 7-5 in his hometown Sydney.

Also involved in the conversation was fellow tennis star Casper Ruud, who added: “His backhand cross is quite heavy, like a normal right-handed forehand in my eyes. The first time I hit with him, I was like, ‘What the hell?’ His backhand looks on TV a bit sloppy or slow, but it’s heavy, it’s crazy.”

While Nadal will go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, De Minaur has likened his style to someone still active on the tour today. The 25-year-old believes world No.3 Jannik Sinner and Nadal share some similar characteristics.

“The comparison now is Sinner,” he said. “His two-handed backhand is almost like a forehand because he’s getting so much force and rotation on it as well, and that’s the same with Rafa on the other side.”

De Minaur’s 2024 Miami Open campaign is set to kick off on Thursday afternoon when he takes to the court with partner Rinky Hijikata to compete in the men’s doubles. The duo have been paired against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Thanasi Kokkinakis for the round-of-32 encounter, while De Minaur will compete in the singles event the following day.

Having been handed a bye into round two of the singles event, De Minaur will be watching on during the game between Alexandre Muller and Kwon Soon-woo, given he’s due to face the winner. And as the 10th seed heading into the tournament, De Minaur will fancy his chances of progressing deep into the competition.

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