Alex de Minaur has paid a poignant tribute to Ken Rosewall after making a triumphant return to his beloved arena named in the tennis legend’s honour.
Six years after being an orange boy at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena, de Minaur finally played his first Davis Cup match on his “favourite court in the world”.
Fittingly, Rosewall enjoyed a front-row view as de Minaur rose to the occasion to give Australia a 1-0 lead in their qualifying tie against Hungary with a 7-5 6-2 win over Zsombor Piros.
The victory continued a love affair with Ken Rosewall Arena, where the Sydneysider grew up playing, made his first ATP final in 2018 – falling to now-world No.1 Daniil Medvedev – before returning the following year to land his maiden tour title.
But he said nothing compared to playing Davis Cup for Australia so little wonder the 23-year-old was thrilled to strike the first blow on Friday – and with 87-year-old Rosewall watching on.
“I can’t tell you how good it feels to play in front of a home crowd, on my home court,” de Minaur said.
“It’s special to wear the green and gold in front of legends of the sport, with the history, culture and tradition the Australian Davis Cup team has.”
De Minaur said his father used to make him watch old video tapes of Rosewall’s matches and learn from a player similarly small in physical stature but a true giant of the game.
“I’ve been fortunate to also spend time with Ken. We had a nice dinner with Ken a couple of days ago and got to hear all the stories. It’s just a special feeling, for sure,” he said after thanking Rosewall personally in his on-court victory speech.
“As much as I love playing on this court, this is your court Kenny. It’s my favourite court in the world.
“Thanks so much for being here and everything you’ve done. You will keep firing us up here and at the Davis Cup for many years to come.”
Kokkinakis’ 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-3 loss to Marton Fucsovics in the second match left the tie locked at 1-1 heading into Saturday’s doubles and two reverse singles rubbers.
De Minaur said he’d relish the chance to seal Australia’s place in the 2022 Davis Cup Finals if John Peers and Luke Saville could beat Fucsovics and Fabian Marozsan in the doubles.
De Minaur needed a third-set tiebreaker to see off Fucsovics fourth months ago in Australia’s tight 2-1 win over Hungary in the 2021 Finals in Turin and suspected another showdown between the country’s two No.1s was “probably the match a lot of people were waiting for”.
“We had a battle last Davis Cup and we get to do it again,” he said.
“We’re both playing for pride and passion and for our country … let the best man win.”