Aussie Alex de Minaur has the same quickness and ferocious determination that he had two years ago when he faced Germany's Alexander Zverev in a team competition in Brisbane.
But in about every other meaningful way, De Minaur is a completely different player than he was when he and Zverev played in February 2018.
De Minaur was No. 139 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and making his Davis Cup debut. The then-18-year-old, still pushed Zverev, though, losing in a fifth-set tie-break, and Germany won the tie
Two years later, however, De Minaur is a three-time ATP Tour titlist, No. 18 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and the No. 1 singles player in his country.
He and Australia will have a chance to avenge that 2018 loss on Friday afternoon when he and Zverev meet again in Brisbane at the ATP Cup. The countries' No. 2 singles players – Jan-Lennard Struff (Germany) and Nick Kyrgios (Australia) – will start the rubber at 5:30 p.m.
“Obviously, there's a couple years' more experience. I've had a couple good years on Tour, and I'm very happy with where I am right now,” De Minaur said on Thursday. “I know it's going to be an incredibly tough match, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think I've put in a lot of hard work through the pre-season and I feel ready for a new year.”
The home country's top hope climbed 13 spots in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2019. The year prior, De Minaur jumped 177 places, from No. 208 to No. 31. The two-time Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up is eyeing another big leap in 2020.
“I had probably about a week and a half of holidays, and then we came over here to Oz and started the pre-season,” De Minaur said. “It was a real big focus because we had such an unbelievable year last year, so we wanted to make sure to be in the best possible position to try and come out and do it all again, especially knowing that coming up here, my first three matches are against such high-level opponents, so I've got to be ready.”