Alex de Minaur has continued his bright start to the 2022 season by prevailing in a hard-fought contest with American Mackenzie McDonald and booking his place in the quarter-finals of the World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Hoping to continue his encouraging progress in Europe after enjoying his best-ever Australian Open, de Minaur could next find himself facing Melbourne semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last-eight.

Wednesday’s baseline war of attrition between Australia’s men’s No.1 and the American McDonald always promised to be a close-run affair but de Minaur will be grateful for a surprisingly bloodless ending to the two hour 27 minute slugfest, as he won 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 6-4.

With the scores locked at 4-4 in the final set, it looked highly likely that this third match between world No.34 de Minaur and the No.49 McDonald – the Aussie had won the other two – would go to a tiebreak decider.

Yet the American won only two more points as, first, de Minaur reeled off his service game to love before McDonald played a stinker while serving to stay in the match.

He compounded a careless error that brought de Minaur back to 30-30 by making a rash and slightly panicky advance on the net on the next point, allowing de Minaur to pick him off with a searing forehand pass.

On match point, a deep return from de Minaur could only be hooked wide by McDonald as the Australian let out a whoop of delight in the crowd-free indoor stadium to demonstrate just how much the win meant to him.

Several times during the match, the 22-year-old ‘Demon’ had already shown his admirable battling qualities, not least when hitting back from five points to two down to win the opening tiebreak and seal the marathon 68-minute first set.

Things started looking ominous too when McDonald outplayed de Minaur in the second set and broke for a 1-0 lead in the decider before an immediate break-back proved the Australian’s launchpad to victory.

It was a fine follow-up to de Minaur’s 6-0 6-3 victory over David Goffin first up but Friday’s quarter-final promises to be much harder work against either top seed Tsitsipas or big-serving Belarusian Ilya Ivashka, who meet on Thursday.