Nick Kyrgios’ loss to injury has deprived the Australian Open of one of its biggest draws but it has proved a boon for Alex de Manor as fans rallied around the home favourite.
The Australian number two soaked up the joys of the Rod Laver Arena crowd on Saturday when he reached the last 16 for the second year in a row with an emphatic 7-6(0) 6-2 6-1 win. . French Benjamin Bonzi.
Passionate and hard-driving, but not gifted with a killer arsenal, the 23-year-old couldn’t be more different from Netflix’s glossy star Kyrgios, who is as famous for his temperament as his tennis.
But De Manor has filled the breach admirably in a tournament where the Aussies are now short of supplies.
“I’m so happy, I can’t lie,” DeManor told the Center Court crowd.
“Honestly, that’s what you train for as a kid — playing on that court in front of you guys.
“Every time I leave here I have to pinch myself.”
Kyrgios is famous for rallying fans – and then berating them when they get unruly – but De Manor’s tennis was all he needed to send the crowd wild.
Inflatable kangaroos bobbed in the roof of Rod Laver Arena and waves of Mexican waves rose around the stadium in the third set as De Manor put his foot down against Bonzi.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, but to see a packed Rod Laver Arena was pretty special,” he said.
“It’s no secret that I love playing here in my back yard. I think the Australian crowd is amazing.
“The difference is that the opponents don’t just have to play against me, they have to play against the whole crowd.”
De Manor will next face the winner of nine-time champion Novak Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov, who play in the evening session.
The countryman and fellow 23-year-old Alexei Popyrian, who beat eighth seed Taylor Fritz in the second round, will look to reach the last 16 at De Manor when he plays American Ben Shelton.
“I hope that everyone on this court will support Alexey Popyrian,” DeManor said through tears in front of LaVar’s crowd.
“That’s what we do, we Aussies, we stick together… let’s get Pop over the line today.”
(Tags translation)Nick Kyrgios