‘Popcorn match’: Demon to put on another show
FRESH from his memorable ATP Cup win over German ace Alexander Zverev, Australia's Alex de Minaur comes face-to-face with a player on a similar high after his own career-shaping victory.
Denis Shapovalov's straight-sets win on Friday over Greek star and reigning ATP Finals champions Stefanos Tsitsipas has the Canadian No.1 full of confidence heading into Sunday's Group F battle at Pat Rafter Arena.
Having both recorded 3-0 first-up wins, Australia and Canada can take a huge step towards a quarter-final berth with a second successive triumph.
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John Millman will meet Félix Auger-Aliassime in the opening singles rubber, but the feature clash is undoubtedly the battle between de Minaur and Shapovalov.
The pair met in the Davis Cup in November, with de Minaur winning in three sets.
It's a victory the Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said was further proof of world No.18's coming of age.
"Especially, the way he's won his last four matches for Australia. The three that he played in Madrid in Davis Cup and now this one (at the ATP Cup)," Hewitt said.
"The first one against Columbia probably wasn't a name opponent but his last three
wins have been against (David) Goffin, Shapovalov and now Zverev.
"He's got to take a lot of confidence from that and that's why you do all the hard work in the pre-season."
De Minaur said it was a case of "popcorn match after popcorn match" such was the talent on offer in Group F.
"Every match we're going to play is going to be incredibly tough," he said.
"I'm extremely proud of (beating Zverev). I'll do everything to recover and hopefully come Sunday be ready to do it all again.
"It's just about getting in my head that I'm good enough to match it with these guys.
"Every top-10 win and high level opponent win I get, it's a bit more confidence in myself and just trying to back myself.
"I still think, plenty and plenty of room for improvement there."
Shapovalov said his 7-6 7-6 win over Tsitsipas was "really special".
"He had an unbelievable end to the season and he's definitely one of the top players in the world right now," Shapovalov said.
"When the draw came out that we were going to play these guys I was ecstatic. I think it's great for the event and it's a great way to start the season, again, seeing where the game is at and comparing yourself to these great players."