National

De Minaur unbowed despite Nadal defeat

By AAP Newswire

Alex de Minaur has vowed to return to Wimbledon's Centre Court after savouring the most memorable moment of his young career even in defeat to world No.1 Rafael Nadal.

"It was definitely something special. Being able to play on Centre Court against Rafa, that's something that I will remember forever," said de Minaur.

The 19-year-old went down 6-1 6-2 6-4 in the third round but was far from disgraced at the end of a week where he has enjoyed his best run at a grand slam.

De Minaur said pre-match he wouldn't be overawed and, true to his word, the teenager took the fight to Nadal from the outset.

He chip-charged his very first return, making the Spanish great find a magical pass, in a sign of his intentions.

"I just tried to do something different; go out there first point, second serve, just tried to dictate and come in," he said.

"I didn't think it was a bad play. He hit a pretty good lob over me. But I just wanted to make him think about my game style."

Despite the disappointment of defeat, De Minaur said he'd treasure the experience of facing one of the all-time greats of the modern game on the most famous tennis court in the world.

"That's where I want to be, playing on big courts against big players," de Minaur said.

"I've got to work harder, get better, and hopefully next time I get the same opportunity I can push him harder.

"It's the first time I have been on a court with him and just his presence.

"You watch him on TV and you can't really appreciate how hard he hits every single ball and how much intensity and just brute force goes into every one of his ground strokes."

De Minaur has enjoyed a magnificent month in the UK, winning the Nottingham Open final in addition to the decider of the Surbiton Trophy where he lost in three sets to grass-court specialist Jeremy Chardy.

He's also moved into the top 70 in the world in a season that began with him reaching the semi-finals of the Brisbane International and the final in Sydney.

"I think I started the month maybe 110," he said.

"Finishing the grass-court season top 70, it's incredible for me.

"It's the (grass) season that I always enjoy. I loved every second of it.

"I was able to play some great tennis, which makes it even better.

"I've had my best result at a slam, as well.

"But the next tournament is a completely new week. You've got to go back out there, compete and try to get better".

The world No.1 looked in ominous touch throughout the first two sets.

Despite the lop-sided scoreline, Nadal took 10 minutes to break de Minaur in an titanic third game of the match.

De Minaur also forced him to serve out the match and some outstanding returns delighted the crowd and Nadal slowed down the game on break point to regain the initiative - picking up a time violation for his trouble.

Nadal praised the performance of de Minaur and said he expected him to be a big threat on grass for years to come.

"He's very energetic player, very quick," said Nadal.

"He likes to play in this surface. His style of game probably works well for this surface in the future."