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Australian Open: De Minaur closer to taking next step

The wait goes on for an Australian to lift the men's singles title at Melbourne Park, but there are reasons to be optimistic for Aussie tennis fans.

Mark Edmondson remains the last Australian man to lift the trophy back in 1976, and it’s been 19 years since an Australian was last in the final.

Alex De Minaur has shown in recent years that he is capable of challenging for the top titles and his 2024 display in Melbourne has increased belief that he could end the long wait.

Aussies can take heart from Murray

The likes of Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Pat Cash have all come close to ending the run, but their time has been and gone and the home hopes now seem to rest on De Minaur.

At the age of just 24 the Sydney-born star has what it takes to get to the top, but will feel he now needs to take the next step.

De Minaur - 51.00 to win Wimbledon 2024 - has moved into the top-10 of the world rankings and is now consistently reaching the second week of Grand Slam tournaments.

Having made the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2020, the Aussie star has made the fourth round on four separate occasions.

It’s now back-to-back fourth round appearances in Melbourne, with this year’s defeat coming against fifth seed Andrey Rublev. De Minaur had been 2-1 up before losing the final two sets 6-3 6-0.

A standout second-week win over a top-level player is what’s needed for the 2016 Junior Australian Open champion, to give him the belief needed to lift one of the ‘Big Four’ titles.

De Minaur - who can be backed at 67.00 to win the US Open this year - would do well to take inspiration from Andy Murray, who ended Britain’s long wait for a Wimbledon champion.

After making the fourth round in 2006 and the quarters in 2008 at SW19, the Scot reached three consecutive semi-finals before making the final in 2012 and taking the title 12 months later.

Tomljanovic back after injury

You only have to go back to 2020 for the last time Australia had a winner in the women’s singles, but Ash Barty’s subsequent retirement has left a huge void.

At the time of writing, not one Australian female is inside the world’s top-100 in the rankings, with just six inside the top-200 in the standings.

Only two Australians made it past the first round of this year’s tournament, with one of those being the experienced Ajla Tomljanovic.

The three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist looks to be trending in the right direction, having recovered from a long-term knee problem.

Tomljanovic missed three of the ‘Big Four’ tournaments in 2023 but did win a WTA Challenger title in November and showed some good signs in Melbourne.

Her exit came on Day Five, but not before she gave her second-round opponent a real scare - losing in three sets to 11th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

The 30-year-old’s efforts were topped though by qualifier Storm Hunter, who made it to round three - her best run at Melbourne Park.

Despite winning the opening set 6-4, Hunter eventually lost at the hands of Czech star Barbora Krejcikova - with the ninth seed going on to make the quarter-finals.

The 29-year-old played in all four Grand Slams last year - only progressing past the first round at the French Open - and will look to repeat that feat in 2024.

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