Australian teenage tennis sensation Alex de Minaur found a nice gift waiting for him after his latest win at the Sydney International - a personalised Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues jumper.
The jumper was dropped off to de Minaur by coach Brad Fittler, who had been in the crowd when the match started on Tuesday night before it was called off due to rain.
De Minaur returned on Wednesday to down towering American qualifier Reily Opelka – the equal tallest man in professional tennis at 211cm – in straight sets 6-4 7-6 (7-4).
Fittler predicted a bright future for the Aussie tennis star after leaving a personalised jumper for him which bears his nickname, 'Demon'.
“I met him last year, he did really well, he jumped up out of nowhere,” Fittler told nswrl.com.au
“I think everyone respects the way he goes about things. He’s 19 and he just beat a bloke who is seven foot tall.
“The greatest tennis players that I’ve seen, like Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt, just have to work so hard. They don’t seem to have a booming serve and it says a lot about Australia that they have to work hard for every point.
“Lleyton and Pat both got themselves to number one, winning majors, and he seems to be going along the same way. Hopefully he gets a bit stronger and his serve gets a bit quicker and it’s hard not to respect anyone who works so hard for every single point.
“He just puts it on the line every point, it’s incredible.”
De Minaur declared his support for NSW at the Brisbane International last year when he used the war cry ‘Blue Wall’ to help him to an inspiring win over Milos Raonic.
The teenager later revealed he pinched the expression off the NSW State of Origin team who use it when their backs are against the wall against Queensland – a fact that wasn’t lost on Fittler.
“We use that in Origin a lot,” Fittler said.
“Toughness is toughness. Whatever he feels when he calls that out is hopefully the same thing that NSW players feel. He doesn’t get to rely on other people so it’s a little bit different, he’s all on his own really.
“When our boys call it out it’s about protecting each other and looking after each other and doing whatever your body can do.”