No Aussies left at Sydney tennis
Teenager Alex De Minaur was so bullish about reaching the quarter-finals of the Sydney International he ignored the advice of physios and played against Andrey Kuznetsov on Wednesday night.
Regrettably for De Minaur it backfired, with an abdominal strain ending his bid to become the first player under the age of 18 to reach the final eight in Sydney since Lleyton Hewitt in 1999.
The 17-year-old suffered the injury on Tuesday, when he shocked world No.46 Benoit Paire to claim his maiden ATP tour win.
De Minaur retired on Wednesday after dropping his opening set against Kuznetsov 6-2 in 40 minutes, but remains upbeat he will be fit to take part in the Australian Open.
"I was feeling this halfway through my first-round match but with adrenaline and that, I sort of pushed through," De Minaur said.
"As soon as I finished that match, I went to the physio and tried to do everything I could to get my ab ready.
"Physios were trying to get me, sort of told me it was a good idea not to play, but I still wanted to make an effort and see how it was on court.
"I could feel it was gradually getting worse. I felt like it was better not to risk actually getting a tear."
De Minaur will pocket $50,000 if he makes his senior grand slam debut next week, as opposed to the $12,675 on offer if he reached the Sydney quarters.
"I will head to Melbourne tomorrow and then we will start treatment, trying to get ready for AO (Australian Open). Pretty sure it should be all right for AO," he said.
Hewitt was among many in the crowd at Sydney Olympic Park that watched De Minaur defeat Frenchman Paire, while the teen also dazzled fans at the Brisbane International with a shock qualifying win over 2015 Sydney finalist Mikhail Kukushkin.
"It's been an unbelievable week. I'm really happy," he said.
"Disappointed with how I had to finish off the tournament, but hopefully I can keep my level up for AO, which is the big picture.
"I'm not going to play Aussie Open juniors. I'm going to try and focus more on the pro tour."
Australia's hopes of a local winner in the main draw of the Sydney International ended on Wednesday, when youngsters De Minaur, Matt Barton and Jordan Thompson all lost.
Thompson went down 7-5 6-4 to fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, while qualifier Barton lost a sapping three-setter to sixth seed Gilles Muller 6-1 3-6 6-4.
Thompson lasted 84 minutes in his second-round loss to Kohlschreiber, although the Australian wildcard could see the upside of testing himself in 41C heat.
"Playing in these conditions, it's good preparation (for the Australian Open)," Thompson said.
The 22-year-old, who defeated David Ferrer at the Brisbane International last week and also won last week's doubles final with Thanasi Kokkinakis, added belief would not be an issue at Melbourne Park.
"I have won plenty of matches already (in 2017). Won doubles matches as well. I'll be pretty confident," he said.
Two-time defending champion Victor Troicki headlined the men's winners on Wednesday, trumping Paolo Lorenzi 6-3 6-4.