Fitness

How top Aussie tennis star Alex de Minaur keeps sane in lockdown ahead of Australian Open


The Australian Open is looking a little different this year due to the COVID pandemic. But hotel quarantine hasn’t stop Australia’s top-ranked men’s player, Alex de Minaur, it just means he’s had to get a little creative. 

Alex de Minaur is Australia’s highest-ranked men’s tennis player and going into next week’s Australian Open, the hopes of a nation will be on his 21-year-old shoulders. And if that wasn’t pressure enough, it’s fair to say the lead up to this year’s grand slam, with COVID-19 and lockdowns, has been anything but ordinary. But the player nicknamed “the demon” is taking it in his stride.

“I always find it amazing to play in Australian and in front of my home crowd. I’ve never seen it as additional pressure, but more excitement,” he tells Body+Soul.

“Last year I wasn’t able to play in the Australian Open due to an injury so it’s safe to say I’ve been marking the Open in my calendar for a year now and I am eager to make my return. I want to play my best tennis.”

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To play his tennis it means he’s had to learn, like even us nonprofessional athletes, how to keep fit and healthy during lockdowns and more recently, during hotel quarantine stays. Here he shares what he learnt about keeping fit, and sane, while in lockdown.

The importance of routine

“Whether you’re an athlete or not, the biggest thing during lockdown or quarantine is trying to stick to a routine. I find that’s the easiest way to get fitness stuff done during the tough times,” he says.

“I’ve gone through it myself during lockdown. You don’t want to do anything. You want to lay in bed all day but if you get into a routine you will feel better and feel like you’ve done something productive.”

He adds: “I’ve had days, when I think, what’s one day of not doing something? How is that going to hurt me? But the biggest thing is when you miss a routine, getting back into the routine is the toughest part. If you just push through the one day of not doing it, it’s going to be way easier than getting back into the routine.”

Try something new

“Lockdown was a good time to try new things. Give yourself the opportunity that maybe before you didn’t have the time too. I spent my lockdown by myself, which gave me a chance to attempt to cook,” he says, adding, “I probably cooked about two meals then realised it wasn’t worth the effort. There was too much prep, too much time for just 30 seconds of enjoyment. Then you’ve got to wash the dishes.”

Stay hydrated

“Hydration is one of the most important things in life,” de Minaur says, adding it’s why he’s signed with Australian sports nutrition brand eniQ.

“Yes, it’s important for me to stay hydrated through my gruelling five-set matches, it’s also important for everyday life too. I find staying hydrated the easiest way to keep healthy.”

Seek professional help

The tennis ace has been working with a psychologist for three years and says that professional support helped him navigate the challenges of 2020.

“It was a very tough year, for everyone, It was a lot of changes and scenarios we aren’t used to. I’m a strong believer that you learn from every experience,” he says.

Watch friends

De Minaur adds he would normally switch off by going for a walk, but during lockdowns, he had to adapt that too.

“I’ve had to learn different ways to switch off, like watching Netflix. During lockdown, I watched Friends from start to end. That was a good call.”