Champ de Minaur into Eastbourne quarters

Australia's top men's player Alex de Minaur has made it into the last-eight in the defence of his Eastbourne International title by beating Lorenzo Sonego.

ALEX DE MINAUR. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Alex de Minaur has kept his hopes alive of a successful defence of his Eastbourne International title, defeating Lorenzo Sonego in a repeat of last year's final to move into the quarter-finals.

Australia's No.1 made lighter work of beating the Italian this time as he carved out a comfortable 7-6 (7-3) victory on Wednesday at the traditional final pre-Wimbledon event in the southern English seaside town.

In last year's final, de Minaur only secured his triumph in a final-set tiebreak but he had fewer problems taming Sonego as he broke the Italian's serve three times en route to his victory in just over an hour and a half.

The Sydneysider, seeded six at Eastbourne, was himself broken just once and he was soon to enjoy even better news that he'll face a last-eight meeting with American Tommy Paul, rather than No.2 seed Jannik Sinner, who appears to have his number.

Paul earned a shock 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Sinner, who is one of de Minaur's bogey players.

The Italian has beaten his former NextGen rival four straight times already in their career but, in contrast, the Australian will have fewer fears playing Paul, having beaten him on the hard courts of Indian Wells and the clay of Rome already this season.

But the American is clearly enjoying the grass-court vibe, having beaten another big name after putting paid to Denis Shapovalov and Stan Wawrinka at Queen's.

Hopes that Australia might see a second man reach the last-eight quickly foundered as Kazakh Alexander Bublik enjoyed one of his 'on' days as he defeated John Millman 6-4 6-2.

Bublik will next face Taylor Fritz in the quarters, with the winner to meet either de Minaur or Paul.

It had been an encouraging display from world No.24 de Minaur, who went to his highest-career ranking of No.15 after winning this event this time last year but has found the going much harder over the past 12 months with setbacks which included a debilitating COVID-19 break.