Lleyton Hewitt backs home hopeful ahead of Australian Open


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Lleyton Hewitt says Alex de Minaur can handle any raised levels of expectation going into the Australian Open.

De Minaur enjoyed a breakthrough campaign in 2018 as he rose up to 31 in the ATP rankings from outside the top 200.

The Australian is likely to be the top-ranked home player going into the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne, with Nick Kyrgios currently 35th in the world, and as such Hewitt says he will be under extra pressure.

The former world number one and two-time major winner has no concerns over De Minaur’s mentality, however, and urged the 19-year-old to embrace the pressure.

“He’s going to have a target on his back for sure, especially since he’s going to be close to a seeding in January at the Australian Open,” said Hewitt.

“With that comes pressure and expectation playing at his home slam. But I think it’s something he’ll embrace as well and, if anything, that’s one area where I can probably help him with a little bit; just dealing with that pressure and expectation and trying to embrace it more than think that it’s actually a negative on you and weigh you down.”

De Minaur, who reached the third round of both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018, is 151.00 to win the Australian Open outright. Kyrgios is 23.00 and ATP Tour Finals winner Alexander Zverev can be backed at 9.50.

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