Lleyton Hewitt wants Australian Open semi-final for Alex de Minaur

Lleyton Hewitt has set Australia’s top-ranked singles player Alex de Minaur the task of reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open as he beats down the door of the world’s top 10.

Hewitt, a mentor of de Minaur who works closely with the 24-year-old as Australia’s Davis Cup captain, said de Minaur was on the brink of achieving a huge career goal as he worked on “a couple of little areas” to bridge the gap between the world’s best players.

De Minaur reached a career high rank of 11 last week and is mounting a push to play in the prestigious ATP Finals in Turin next month, for which the top eight players qualify.

A similar type of player to de Minaur, Hewitt said he had “full confidence” that de Minaur could beat any player in the world and was close to unlocking the consistency that would have him contending regularly at grand slams.

“I have full confidence every time he goes out there for me in the Davis Cup that he can beat anyone – I don’t doubt it when I’m out there with him,” Hewitt said.

“For him to be able to do it day in and day out, that’s what he’s got to get, that same belief and feed off what he does in the Davis Cup sometimes.

“Playing the five-set matches at the Australian Open, I know deep down he would love nothing more than to make a really big run here and get the crowd support behind him … they’ll feed off his determination and his never-say-die attitude.”

Hewitt said de Minaur would be one of the top contenders at the Open in January if he was able to stay fit.

“If he can get through and not cause too much damage to his body as well physically, I think he can push deep,” he said.

“Also over five sets, it’s completely different sometimes, and that’s something I prided myself on, to mentally stay in the contest for five sets and not have ebbs and flows.

“So there’s little things like that, but he’s getting there. I always knew he was going to be a top-10 player, I have full belief in that, and he’s hopefully going to get his opportunity in the next few months to crack into the top 10.”

The Davis Cup captain said he thought the Australians could “do something big” at November’s Davis Cup finals after a come-from-behind win over France in Manchester in September kept their title hopes on track.

Hewitt forecast he would stick to the same five team members who played in September for the finals, with Jordan Thompson, Thanasi Kokkinakis and first-choice doubles pair Matt Ebden and Max Purcell to join de Minaur in Zagreb.

“I think we can do something big, I honestly do. I think these boys, it’s a really good culture around the team at the moment, there’s a confidence without being arrogant,” he said.

“I have full belief in the boys when I put them out there, and I think they can feed off my belief in them as well, which is big out there.”

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