John Newcombe thinks Alex de Minaur will take some time to become a Grand Slam contender
What's the story?
Newcombe was referring to 20-year-old Alex de Minaur, who had a great second half of 2019 that saw him climb into the top 20 after an injury-ridden first half. Newcombe said that while De Minaur has ticked all the right boxes so far, it will be a while before he can start challenging for Slams.
In case you didn't know...
There was a time when Australia totally dominated men's tennis. Newcombe himself was part of a strong generation of Aussie players that had a stranglehold over the Slams.
Because of all that history, there is always a tremendous weight of expectations surrounding their players. However, Australia have failed to match the success of their former eras, with Lleyton Hewitt being their last men's Grand Slam champion back in 2002.
The heart of the matter
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Newcombe is bullish about De Minaur's prospects, stressing how the youngster has reacted well to his challenges thus far.
"After fighting back from injury, Alex had a great second half of this year and 2020 promises to be good for him. He's a probable top-15 and hopefully top-12 or top-10 player as long as he can stay injury-free, as every question asked of him he's come up with the right answers," Newcombe was quoted as saying.
Despite this effusive praise, however, Newcombe didn't get carried away with his views. He added a word of caution about the kind of expectations that should be heaped on De Minaur's shoulders.
"I can't see him contending in a Grand Slam the next 12 months because that's a little quick - I think he's a couple of years away from that. I would think Alex would be playing his best tennis around 25 or 26 years of age," Newcombe added.
Despite being one for the future, De Minaur doesn't attract the spotlight the way some other NextGen players do. But that could prove to be a positive for the Australian, as his steady growth will be free of the kind of pressure that can overwhelm many players, especially younger ones.