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Alex de Minaur
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  2. Australian Open

Australian Open: Home hopes rest with De Minaur

Hopes of home success in the Australian Open at Melbourne Park are perhaps not surprisingly loaded on the shoulders of the 10th seed in the men's singles draw, Alex de Minaur.

De Minaur is the sole Aussie to have made it through to the fourth round and his next challenge is a meeting with fifth seed Andrey Rublev, with a place in the quarter-finals at stake.

The 24-year-old Sydney native has fallen at the fourth-round stage in each of the last two years in Melbourne, with his sole run to a Grand Slam quarter-final having come at the US Open in 2020.

De Minaur making serene progress

De Minaur lost the first set of his opening match against Milos Raonic, but he has been imperious ever since.

His clash with Raonic was cut short by an injury to the Canadian, before the Aussie swept aside Italians Matteo Arnaldi and Flavio Cobolli in straight sets.

However, he is taking nothing for granted, having lost out to Jannik Sinner and Novak Djokovic in the fourth round in Melbourne in 2022 and 2023 respectively - with those two players in the same half of the draw as De Minaur this time around.

De Minaur said after seeing off Cobolli: "We're getting to the tail end of the tournament and the matches are definitely going to be very tough.

"It's all going to come down to the level I bring to the match. I've got to back myself up, I've got to believe, I've got to play positive tennis."

Fifth seed Rublev is the player standing in the way of De Minaur and a first quarter-final appearance at his home Slam, with the two men having met on five previous occasions.

De Minaur leads Rublev 3-2 in their head-to-head record, although their last meeting ended in a win for the Russian - 4-6 6-3 6-1 in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters last year.

Rublev is the 1.72 fancy to come out on top this time around, with De Minaur 2.10 to progress and set up a meeting with either Sinner or Karen Khachanov.

Tough draws halt further progress

While, De Minaur continues to impress, several other Aussie men performed well without being able to make it past round two.

Alexei Popyrin fell in four sets to top seed and defending champion Djokovic, Jordan Thompson pushed seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas to four sets and Thanasi Kokkinakis lost in four sets to 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Most notably, Max Purcell pushed 11th seed Casper Ruud all the way to a final-set tie-break before losing out 6-3 6-7 6-3 3-6 7-6.

Hunter run ends in round three

In the women’s draw, Storm Hunter fared best of the Aussies as she reached the third round, where she put up a huge fight before being edged out in three sets by Barbora Krejcikova.

Former Wimbledon women's doubles finalist Hunter had not won a singles match at her home Grand Slam until this year, losing in the first round five times, while this was also the first time she had made round three of a Grand Slam.

She ended her run of defeats as she beat former French Open finalist Sara Errani 6-4 6-3 in her opener and followed that up with a three-set victory over German Laura Siegemund in the second round.

However, she was denied a place in the last-16 by 2021 French Open champion Krejcikova, who overcame the loss of the first set to seal a 4-6, 7-5. 6-3 victory.

Alja Tomljanovic was the only other Australian woman to reach the second round, but she was unable to back up a hard-fought win over Petra Martic as she lost 6-0 3-6 6-4 to another former French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko.

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