There are goals and aspirations that people want to reach. Not everyone achieves their heart’s desires but to strive for perfection can also cause frustration and create mental dramas.
For an athlete trying to be the best, it can be a never-ending challenge because the true great ones believe they are always learning something new.
Satisfaction is never really there for the long term as there is a near constant rage for perfection.
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At only 23, Australian No.1 Alex De Minaur is working to find his Nirvana. He is driven by results, and he has not been able to wholly escape from the pressures of his “work life”.
His ultimate goal is to “achieve complete happiness”, but so far he has not been able to find that corner of his life.
“I would love to be that person who can come out, leave it all out there, win or lose and then be happy,” De Minaur said.
“I think happiness is my ultimate goal because that means I would have achieved or learned how to deal with every aspect of life and enjoy myself. Not feel as pressured or down when things are not going my way. So probably that is what I want to achieve the most.
“Being truthful, no I have not got there. I wish I was because it would make my life a lot easier, and I think it would make everybody’s life probably easier. Right now, probably the bad thing I have is being driven by results and that’s something I’m working on to try and improve.”
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He says he is yet to find a perfect balance with the perfect kind of escape that stops him from dwelling too much on certain losses. He loves his golf, and he loves the outdoors, but they provide temporary relief from the tour’s pressures.
De Minaur is a bit of a home body but that is tough to be when the tennis circuit takes you around the world from January to November.
Disconnecting is what it’s all about whether it is with friends, family, girlfriend. It does help to some extent that his girlfriend is British player Katie Boulter. They have now been together for two years and are able to relate to each other’s ups and downs. She has had her own fair share of frustrations with injuries.
“In a way it’s interesting; we kind of both go through similar lifestyles,” De Minaur said.
“We both struggled at times with the same things. I reckon we both would rather if we didn’t play the sport because that way, we could probably see each other more often but it comes with the territory and when it comes to that we understand each other quite well.
“We know all the doubts and thoughts in the processes we both go through, and we just try to be there for each other win, lose, or draw. That’s probably the most important thing.”
Tennis as a whole has been taking the mental side of the sport more seriously of late. Ever since the Naomi Osaka implosion in 2021 more players have been speaking out.
Recently, in Australia Jelena Dokic and Destanee Aiava have revealed how close they came to taking their own lives and Nick Kyrgios was very open with Wide World of Sports about the dark place he was in.
It is not a new concern. It has been the case from the ’80s and ’90s with the likes of Andrea Jaeger and Jennifer Capriati being just two examples. That is when tennis authorities should have done a better job in developing strategies to combat these situations.
“I do feel for those people and. I think of course about there being a couple of Australian incidents, but I think this is a very common in our sport,” De Minaur said.
“There’s a lot of … it’s tough to explain, but probably the best way to say it, is passionate parents.
“The sport itself has a lot of pressure involved so you get external factors. I think it’s way more common, so you have to learn to deal with it.
“There are different ways of dealing with it. I found my way but it’s not easy and it’s another part of the sport.”
For Alex a chance dinner in California last October with a player he really did not know, Emilio Gomez, the son of legendary Ecuadorian player Andres Gomez, helped him to look at his life in a different way.
Emilio has tried hard to make it on the tour and had only minor success, but he told Alex to cherish every day and to enjoy whatever he does and whatever he achieves.
The Demon listened and absorbed the words of advice and while not perfect, he feels he can see the change in the mental and emotional side of his career.
This year has been a positive year for him, and he has been generally happy with his attitude.
Sure, there are still “unhappy weeks where I haven’t handled things as I should”, but it has still been very positive. The conversation with Gomez remains in his mind as a reminder of what he needs to do and the accomplishments on court are simply the best moments.
“The beauty of tennis is that it’s an individual sport,” De Minaur said.
“Of course, you got a great team of people around you but it’s just you out there on the court. I think it probably brings the highest highs when it comes to that.
“When you have an incredibly good accomplishment with a match, there is probably no better feeling than that. You’ve got the highest highs and the lowest lows, so when you’ve been struggling for confidence, you’re not winning matches, it can be a pretty dark place, just because how individual the sport is.”
Despite all that De Minaur is arguably the worldliest among Australian players. He speaks three languages, he has a base in Alicante, in Sydney and just recently moved to Monaco. He is very young, yet he has been around a fair bit.
There has been a lot of travelling, a lot of time on planes. He has been raised in two different cultures and is now experiencing a third.
“It’s all new experiences so I’d like to think I’m quite worldly, to use the word, yep!” he said
“I spend more time in Monaco than Alicante, family is still in Spain. Despite it being an easy move, I love being at home, love driving my classic cars … I hold those sorts of values close (but) it’s a matter of adapting .”
Right now for Alex, focus is on the grass court season in England as he prepares for Wimbledon where he will be the only Australian to be seeded in the singles.
After that there will be a bit of time to climb into one of those classic cars and go for drives on warm summer days in Spain. He has three of those classic cars to choose from, a British racing green ’73 Mini, a ’67 Mustang or a ’65 Cobra.
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