Alex de Minaur sets up Rafa Nadal clash after beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert in four sets at Wimbledon
AUSSIE teen sensation Alex de Minaur could face world No.1 Rafael Nadal in a dream third-round Wimbledon match-up after beating Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
The 19-year-old prevailed 6-2 6-7 (10-8) 7-6 6-3 against the world No.72, bolstering his burgeoning reputation as one of the most exciting young players in men’s tennis.
Handed a wildcard by the All England following his success at the Nottingham grass-court event last month, the world No.80 from Sydney hustled his way to victory in just over three hours.
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A finalist in the juniors at The All England Club two years ago, de Minaur got off to the perfect start, breaking Herbert in the opening game of the match. He then saved two break points to open up a 2-0 lead and broke Herbert again with a magnificent forehand winner that clipped the baseline on his way to taking out the set.
Herbert raced into 2-0 lead early in the second but de Minaur got back the break immediately and levelled with another crunching forehand winner. But the Frenchman took out a tense tiebreak after de Minaur had saved four set points but failed to convert two of his own.
Herbert took the early initiative in the third to break his young opponent, but showing a strength of character synonymous with his mentor Lleyton Hewitt, di Menaur hit straight back to level at 3-3.
He took out the set 7-5 on the Herbert serve with his fourth set point and bolstered by that, marched into an early 3-0 lead in the fourth on his way to closing out an impressive victory.
The top-ranked Nadal was a big favourite to confirm a third-round date with de Minaur when he played Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin later on Thursday.