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'Chill' Demon facing fiery Fognini at Open

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Alex de Minaur can't recall ever coming close to a physical altercation with an opponent.

a close up of a person holding a racket: Alex de Minaur is expecting a tough Australian Open clash with Fabio Fognini.

Alex de Minaur is expecting a tough Australian Open clash with Fabio Fognini.

But the 21-year-old had better stay on guard when he takes on fiery Italian veteran Fabio Fognini in the Australian Open third round on Saturday.

Fognini and countryman Salvatore Caruso were separated by the court supervisor during an expletive-filled argument when they met at the net after their second-round clash.

Reactions to the shouting contest lit up social media as it quickly became a far bigger talking point than the actual match.

Meanwhile, de Minaur has let his tennis speak for itself.

The Aussie men's No.1 has quietly breezed past Tennys Sandgren and Pablo Cuevas to equal his previous career-best Open run from 2019.

"I would say my temperament on the court is a bit more calm and chill," de Minaur said.

"I like to stay to myself a bit and try to focus on my side of the court."

The world No.23 didn't drop a set against Sandgren or Cuevas but expects 16th seed Fognini to present a tougher challenge.

 

"It's a quality opponent, I mean, Fabio has been up there for a very long time," de Minaur said.

"He's back to playing his best tennis (and) he showed it at ATP Cup.

"Look, it's going to be a very tough one, but I'm happy to be in the third round."

De Minaur missed last year's home grand slam with an abdominal injury but bounced back later in 2020, reaching the US Open quarter-finals in his best result in a major.

He has never looked in a better position to advance to the second week at Melbourne Park but insists he remains his own toughest critic.

"That's something that's not gonna change," de Minaur said.

"It is true that at times I'm probably too hard on myself, and that can affect me not in a positive way.

"But I also believe that's what drives me to constantly want to improve.

"I'm never satisfied with where I'm at. I'm never satisfied with my level. I always want to keep improving and keep pushing myself."

"But I do have a great team around me that kind of puts things in perspective when maybe I don't want to really look at that side of things."

If he beats Fognini, de Minaur will likely come up against second seed Rafael Nadal, the same man who brought his 2019 Open run to an end.

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