Day 5: Barty, De Minaur, Birrell fly the flag
Young Australian trio Ash Barty, Alex De Minaur and Kimberly Birrell feature in big matches at Rod Laver Arena on Friday at the Australian Open.
Newcombe Medallists Ashleigh Barty and Alex De Minaur are out to lead the local brigade into the Australian Open fourth round on Friday.
Australia’s top-ranked player Barty is looking to eclipse her best finish at a home Grand Slam after reaching the third round at Melbourne Park in her previous two appearances.
She takes on Greece’s Maria Sakkari, ranked world No.43, in the first match up on Rod Laver Arena.
Barty on her upcoming match vs. Sakkari: "Maria I'm great friends with and have a really great relationship. We have played a couple times now. She's one of the best movers and competitors out there.” #AusOpen
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 16, 2019
Teen sensation De Minaur has already eclipsed his previous best Australian Open result and will have his work cut out against world No.2 and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal.
This is the third straight major tournament at which De Minaur has advanced to the last 32; he met Nadal at the same stage on Centre Court at Wimbledon.
The Spaniard is taking on his third Australian in as many matches after already accounting for James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden.
Another member of Australia’s Gen Next, Kimberly Birrell has a chance to notch another big scalp in a breakout summer.
The 20-year-old faces Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2016 Australian Open winner.
Kerber has been in ominous form, cruising past two lowly-ranked opponents in straight sets in her opening matches.
Yet Birrell enters the match after a stunning upset of 29th seed Donna Vekic, notable for the composure she showed in refocusing to dominate the third set.