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De Minaur locked in French Open battle before more rain

Alex de Minaur’s bid to become the first Australian man in 17 years to reach the last 16 at the French Open has once again been interrupted by the dismal Paris weather.

Locked in an intensifying little-and-large duel with powerhouse Jan-Lennard Struff at one-set all, the players had to come off No.14 court for rain on Saturday with the big German 2-0 up in the third set.

It was the same pattern with the weather that has frustrated de Minaur all week, as the Aussie No.1 complained the constant interruptions to matches in the cold, damp conditions had added years to his life.

Jan-Lennard Struff was inspired early on in their rain-interrupted battle. (AP PHOTO)

But it was the booming groundstrokes of rejuvenated 34-year-old veteran Struff that looked better designed to give de Minaur gray hairs, as he crashed 32 winners past the 11th seed in the hour and three-quarters they were on court.

De Minaur, who had eased through his opening two matches in straight sets, found himself this time more in survival mode, as he scurried around for all he was worth trying to recover plenty of lost causes from Struff’s bullets as the German took the first set 6-4.

It was a measure of de Minaur’s resilience and quality that he kept in the fray after being largely bossed around in the opening set by a 1.93m, 92kg opponent who stood 10cm taller and outweighed him by over 20kg.

Trailing 3-1 in the second and looking in real trouble, the 25-year-old broke the German’s huge serve twice to take the stanza 6-4 and level affairs, before world No.41 Struff again took the initiative at the start of the third with a break in the first game.

De Minaur was the first of the two remaining Australian singles players in action, with Thanasi Kokkinakis, creaking into the fray again after two exhausting five-setters, set to face 12th seed Taylor Fritz, the American No.1 later if the weather allowed.

If they both do it into the second week, it will be the first time since Hewitt and Wayne Arthurs in 2001 that Australia had two men in the Roland Garros fourth round.

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