Local Australian Open hopes rest on just two names

Medvedev fights back

Source: Australian Open

The story of the first week of the Australian Open has been Aussies getting dumped out of the tournament.

With just two remaining – and both playing later on Friday – fans at Melbourne Park will be hoping they can buck the trend and book a spot in the third round.

Last Aussies standing

Alex De Minaur and Storm Hunter have watched their countrymen and women fall in the second round.

They are Australia’s last hopes after Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ajla Tomljanovic lost late on Thursday, while crowd favourite Max Purcell was on the wrong side of a five-set marathon match earlier in the day.

De Minaur is the favourite heading into Friday night’s match against 21-year-old Flavio Cobolli, who is ranked 100th in the world. If the Demon is victorious, he will match his best-ever finish in the Australian Open by making the third round.

Alex De Minaur will match his best-ever finish if he beats Cobolli. Photo: AAP

Hunter, the world doubles No.1, is the only Australian woman still in the competition. She faces world No.9 Barbora Krejcikova in a late-night game on Rod Laver Arena.

A win for the Australian will be a huge upset, as she prepares to begin in competition in the doubles tournament.

Australia Day snub

For the second year, the Open won’t have any official celebration of Australia Day when it falls next week.

The response to Tennis Australia’s decision – which has drawn some backlash in the media – was muted among the crowd at Melbourne Park on Friday.

“I didn’t even know there was something,” one fan said.

While another lamented that tennis “should be for everyone”, not everyone was completely happy with the decision.

“It’s a shame really,” one fan said.

“We should all celebrate being Aussie.”

Melbourne media identities Steve Price and Tom Elliot were a bit more emotional – with Price labelling the decision “crazy wokeness gone mad” on Friday.

“They used to feature fireworks, the playing of the national anthem and special musical events to mark the day at the tennis,” Price said.

Radio host Tom Elliott agreed the decision was ridiculous.

“If you’re going to call yourself the Australian Open and it happens that our national day takes place during the tournament, you have to acknowledge Australia Day,” he said on air.

Despite the pair’s concerns, it’s important to remember that aside from the national anthem, there was also no major celebration of Australia Day occurred at the 2023 tournament.

Normally an Australian player is inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame on January 26. This year, Lleyton Hewitt will be inducted but the date has been moved to January 24.

World No.1 in action

Fresh from sending Australian Alexei Popyrin home, Novak Djokovic plays Tomas Etcheverry on centre court later tonight.

The world No.1 is expected to make short work of his Argentinian opponent, who is ranked No.30 in the world.

The Serbian star hasn’t looked his best so far in Melbourne. But anyone underestimating his ability to turn up when needed should be prepared for Djokovic to keep grinding out results in his quest for a record 11th Australian Open.

Daniil Medvedev’s thriller against Emil Ruusuvouri didn’t finish until the early morning. Photo: AAP

Midnight fright

At midnight, world No.3 Daniil Medvedev looked a good chance to be on his way out of the competition against the unfancied Emil Ruusuvuori.

Two sets into their late-night game, Ruusuvuori was in control and hammering the Russian, who was more concerned with his coach than the results on the court.

An early break for the Finnish world No.57 in the third looked like he had his opponent’s number. But the Russian superstar turned the tide before winning three sets in a row – although victory took until the wee hours.

Asked when he was likely to get to bed after his marathon match ended just before 4am on Friday, Medvedev said he would hopefully be there by 6.30am.

“Second question is ‘do I do the physio?’. If I don’t do the physio, I think I don’t go out and play in two days,” he said in his post-game interview.

“If I do the physio, I will see how much I sleep. Maybe if I can sleep from 6 to 12, then some easy practice tomorrow.”

The extra day and early start on a Sunday was supposed to help avoid games such late-night outings. But a fresh look might be required to finally bring an end to 4am finishes.

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.