Demon defeats Djoker as Aussies reach semis

WITHOUT a doubt the biggest win of his career, Alex de Minaur took down the best player in the world in Novak Djokovic with a sublime straight sets performance to send Australia into the 2024 United Cup semi-finals.

On a day where all four results were 3-0 whitewashes – largely due to teams putting in their backup players for doubles when the result was known – the highlight was the world number 12’s stunning 6-4 6-4 victory over the Serbian star, as Djokovic battled through wrist complaints.

No one could take anything away from the Australian however as he went on to produce one of the best serving performances from a non big server, winning all bar one of his first serve points – that came in the last game of the match too – and out-acing the normally powerful Djokovic with seven aces to four.

Though hampered, Djokovic still managed to produce some quality tennis, winning 70 per cent of his first serve points, but was not as characteristically as strong on-serve, as he hit 31 unforced errors to the sizzling de Minaur’s 11. In other words, the Serbian was down on his usual performance due to his troubled wrist, but de Minaur produced a performance out of the box.

“It’s extra special,” de Minaur said post-match. “Novak is an unbelievable competitor and what he’s done for the sport is pretty special. It feels surreal, amazing, and I’m very happy to do it here in Perth and Australia.

“When you go up against Novak you have to go out and enjoy it and back yourself and no matter what keep fighting until the end. Today was my day and I’m happy that I was able to get the win.”

The win essentially guaranteed Australia safe passage to the next stage of the tournament, with Serbia realising it was not going to make it without Djokovic fully fit, and sent in Natalija Stevanovic over Olga Danilovic for the women’s singles against Aussie Ajla Tomljanovic.

Never looking in doubt, the Aussie crushed her opponent – who was playing her first match of the tournament – 6-1 6-1 in 64 minutes. Tomljanovic won all bar three of her first serve points, while Stevanovic won just 14 of 42 off her serve altogether. Though one of the Serbian’s games won was off Tomljanovic’s serve, the Aussie broke her opponent six times and won more than double her points in the victory.

Though not required, the doubles pairing of Storm Hunter and Matthew Ebden kept their match fitness up, going on to take care of Serbian pair Nikola Cacic and Dejana Radanovic in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.

Captain Lleyton Hewitt said he was thrilled the team could win so convincingly and head to Sydney with the confidence sky high.

“Just really proud of the whole team,”he said. “Alex obviously came out and had to play the best player around. We knew that he had to go out there and play well and execute his game plan. He was able to do that from the start… Just thrilled for Alex and that obviously gave us an unbelievable start.

“Then Ajla has gotten better and better with each match she’s played. For her to get the win tonight was very well deserved. She’s been fantastic around the team all week. Then obviously the mixed doubles team, pretty special for them to go 3-0 here in Perth, their hometown.”


In the other quarter final, Poland made light work of surprise packets China, winning all three matches to secure its spot in the semi-finals. Hubert Hurkacz defeated Zhizhen Zhang 6-3 6-4 before world number one Iga Swiatek was not mucking around against Qinwen Zheng, 6-2 6-3 to secure the tie win.

Needing victory to qualify for the quarter finals after a shock loss to Chile the day before, Greece did what it had to do and knocked off Canada convincingly to move to the knockout stage of the tournament.

Maria Sakkari won against Leylah Fernandez in a nail-biting two set match, 7-6 6-3, before Stefanos Tsitsipas – working into it from a back complaint last match – defeated Steven Diez 6-2 6-3. Having been rested all tournament, Felix Auger-Aliassime stepped on court with Stacey Fung but the pair went down to Despina Papamichail and Petros Tsitsipas 7-5 6-4.

France also produced a whitewash of Italy to book its place in the semi-finals, getting ahead of Germany to face Norway in the quarter finals today. The French did not have it easy early, with Caroline Garcia needing three sets to knock off Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 5-7 6-4 and get her nation off to the best start. Luckily for France, Adrian Mannarino followed through with a 6-4 6-4 victory over Lorenzo Sonego to set up the win.


As the Perth teams of Poland and Australia fly to Sydney, the first of the quarter finals takes place from 5:30pm today with France and shock qualifiers Norway going head-to-head. Garcia is raging favourite against the 544th ranked Malene Helgo, while Mannarino will have his work cut out for himself against the unbeaten Casper Ruud.

It is very likely the tie will come down to the doubles, with Ruud and Ulrikke Eikeri looking to do the unthinkable and move through to the semi-finals when they face French duo Garcia and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

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