And so to the pointy end of the year’s first grand slam, with the second week of the Australian Open under way on another sunny day at Melbourne Park. It’s been quite the unique tournament so far – from the build-up which featured hotel quarantine, in-room training programs and whingeing players, to the unusual sights and sounds of robot line judges, a here-one-day, gone-the-next crowd, and now piped-in crowd noise.
Yet still – if you can ignore the absence of some big names, including the biggest of them all Roger Federer – at this stage of the men’s draw, at least, there’s something of a predictable feel. Seven of the top 10 seeds remain at the time of writing, with just Dominic Thiem (3), Diego Schwartzman (8) and Gael Monfils (10) to have fallen getting to this point.
The identity of the eight quarter-finalists will be finalised today, as the bottom half of the draw plays out. Headlining the remainder of the day session is No 2 seed Rafael Nadal, for whom Fabio Fognini looms as the latest obstacle to overcome in his pursuit of a record-breaking 21st grand slam title. We’ll bring you game-by-game coverage of that one once things get going on Rod Laver Arena. The winner will meet either Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded fifth, or Matteo Berrettini, the ninth seed, for a place in the semi-finals. Those two will slug it out late into the night on Rod Laver in the final match of the day.
Elsewhere, fourth seed Daniil Medvedev eased past Mackenzie McDonald of the US earlier today, with the Russian winning in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, while another Russian, seventh seeded Andrey Rublev, is up and running and in the first set against Casper Ruud of Norway in a battle of future stars on Margaret Court Arena.
In the women’s draw, there is a touch more unfamiliarity to the remaining match-ups. Just four top 10 seeds remain – Ash Barty (1), Simona Halep (2), Naomi Osaka (3) and Serena Williams (10). Barty headlines the evening session today as she continues her bid to become the first local woman to win the Australian Open singles title since since Chris O’Neil 43 years ago. She plays American Shelby Rogers first up on Rod Laver, not before 7pm local time.
Do get in touch if you have anything you need to get off your chest. I’m on [email protected], or @mike_hytner it Twitter’s your thing. Let’s crack on.