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Published Time: 02.06.2024 - 06:03:14 Modified Time: 02.06.2024 - 06:03:14

And he was so impressed by his new No.1 fan that de Minaur, who gave his cheerleader a souvenir towel after his 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory, later put out a plea on social media to find out the name of his young saviour so he could thank him properly. Alex de Minaur

And he was so impressed by his new No.1 fan that de Minaur, who gave his cheerleader a souvenir towel after his 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 victory, later put out a plea on social media to find out the name of his young saviour so he could thank him properly.

“I need to find the name of this legend!!! Message me on instagram, I need you for the next round,” wrote de Minaur, after Roland Garros had posted film of the youngster supporting him on court 14.

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Speaking to reporters after the match, the world No.11 said he had no doubt the young kid helped him.

“That young lad was there from the very first point ‘til the last with five hours of rain delay,” de Minaur said.

“He was this little kid that at every single change of ends, every single point I won, he was screaming at my face.

“I’m looking at him and thinking if I was a fan, I would probably be back home, because it was bloody cold out there!

“I don’t understand what this kid is doing, but, oh, he gave me life.

“Every single change of ends I’m looking at him, locking eyes with him.

“And at the end I just gave him a hug. I was, like, mate... it was a relief more than anything.

“It was amazing. I appreciate this kid, the fact that he’s spent 10 hours at the court today in the freezing cold pumping me up. I was happy that I was able to get a win together with him.”

Asked what prize he had given the lad, de Minaur sounded almost embarrassed.

“Gave him a towel. Actually, I would have given him everything in my bag. I mean, I just wasn’t thinking straight with the emotions, but he deserved everything!” he said.

Footage of the moment de Minaur hugged his biggest fan after the match has gone viral on social media, with tennis fans around the world lauding the Aussie’s classy gesture.

The Australian survived a hail of winners from powerhouse Struff but emerged the stronger after a four-and-a-half hour stoppage to win, becoming the first Australian man for 17 years to reach the singles last-16 since his Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt.

And at the end of the eight-hour marathon, de Minaur said he had discovered “gold at the end of the tunnel”.

“Another huge mental battle,” sighed the 25-year-old.

“It was probably one of my best performances, mentally, in my career to turn that match around with the conditions, with everything really against me.”

On another grey, dank Paris morning, the ‘Demon’ had a devil of a job coping with a rejuvenated 34-year-old giant playing lights-out tennis as he lost the first set and was reeling at 1-3 down in the second.

“Everything couldn’t get any worse, right? I knew that this was just his (Struff’s) ideal conditions to a T. Slow, heavy, rainy, muddy, he’s able to hit through the court and not make a lot of mistakes,” de Minaur said.

“I just told myself the only chance or way I was going to win was just to fight ‘til the end, fight every single point, keep battling, try to stay in no matter what. That’s what got me the win.

“Sometimes you don’t get rewarded, but a day like today where I’m backed against the wall, a lot of things going against me, and managing to kind of find the gold at the end of the tunnel, it’s huge.

“It kind of gives me that confidence that I can do it again and again now.”

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Indeed, de Minaur can consider the day he defused Struff’s thunderous game in six minutes under three hours in front of a largely pro-German crowd to make the second week in his least productive grand slam to be another key moment in his blossoming career.

He fought back to take the second set but was 2-0 down in the third when the rains came for the fifth straight day at this trying Roland Garros.

It’s played on de Minaur’s nerves all week, the Aussie No.1 complaining that the constant interruptions to matches in the cold, damp conditions had added years to his life.

But it was the booming groundstrokes of world No.41 Struff that had looked more designed to give him grey hairs, as he had crashed 32 winners past the 11th seed before the stoppage came, which proved a timely one for de Minaur, as Struff admitted.

“After the rain, I felt he came on very well, played a bit more aggressive,” said the German.

“At the end, he was playing very good, hitting very deep balls, getting into offensive positions. He did a great job.”

Indeed, when play finally resumed at 5.30, Struff’s guns were spiked.

De Minaur, at 3-1 down in the third, reeled off five games, and a break in the third game of the fourth was crucial, though he did suffer some nervous moments as Struff had two break points to get back on serve at 4-4.

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