The round of 16 concludes on Monday with eight matches on the schedule at Melbourne Park. It should be an entertaining day, but what are the key talking points on day eight?
What to Expect on Day Eight at the Australian Open
Alex de Minaur to push Novak Djokovic to five sets
Novak Djokovic limped his way to a straight-sets victory over Grigor Dimitrov. But while the scoreline suggests it was straightforward: Djokovic struggled. His hamstring injury has clearly been hampering him, whilst Alex de Minaur has looked sharp in his opening three matches. The Australian looks refreshed in 2023 and is poised to break into the top 20.
At his best, Djokovic would likely dispose of de Minaur in straight sets. But even an all-time great needs both hamstrings. Especially against de Minaur. Uis unforgiving baseline battling combined with almost superhuman speed males him a devilishly difficult opponent to face. Djokovic’s experience (and quality) should tell in the end, but a famous upspet is not entirely out of the question.
Andrey Rublev to stop Holger Rune
A battle between the “next generation” and the “next-next generation” really does whet the appetite. World #5 Andrey Rublev has looked very tidy at the Australian Open, losing just one solitary set so far, but whilst he usually dismisses those below him in the rankings be ca n hit a brick wall against the top-tier opponents.
That said, the Russian put his awkward record against Dan Evans to the back of his mind and disposed of him in straight sets. The Danish world #10 and last year’s Paris Masters Champion Holger Rune will in theory pose more of a challenge, but he has not had an easy time of it so far at the Australian Open. In his victory over Ugo Humbert on Saturday he rolled his ankle and hurt his wrist badly in the process.
It’s a shame that one man will likely be coming into this match at less than 100% as if both men were firing on all cylinders it likely would have been one of the matches of the fourth round. Instead, any result other than a Rublev victory would be a real surprise.
Tommy Paul to set up all-American Quarter Final
Having just won against Jenson Brooksby with relative ease, Tommy Paul surely knows what an opportunity he has to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open. The same can be said for Roberto Bautista Agut, with the winner of this match to play either Ben Shelton or JJ Wolf in the quarterfinals. But Paul is unquestionably the favourite coming into the match.
Bautista Agut has plenty of experience and if Paul is not at his best, the consistent Spaniard has the quality to grind Paul down. Make no mistake though, if both bring their A-game it will be Paul who prevails. In the last 18 months he has impressed, albeit without making a real breakthrough at a Grand Slam. But that should change this week in Melbourne.
Embed from Getty Images