And so the wait continues.

With Nick Kyrgios’ exit on Sunday at the hands of Grigor Dimitrov, the Australian Open will not crown a home-grown singles champion for the fortieth year running.

Speaking as an Aussie myself, this ranks as the number one failure in modern Australian sporting history. Not only is this country an exceptionally proud, exceptionally successful sporting nation, but tennis is one of the sports we’ve had the most success in. To not be able to translate that to home soil since 1978 when Chris O’Neil won the women’s trophy is a black mark on our country only superseded by our loss in the Great Emu War of 1932.

Maybe next year will be different, who knows? Yeah, probably not.

Here’s your three to see for the second half of fourth-round action on day 8 of the Australian Open.


Madison Keys (USA) [17] v Caroline Garcia (FRA) [8] – 1st on Rod Laver Arena

Two of the breakthrough stars of 2017, 2018 could quickly turn out to be even better for either Madison Keys and Caroline Garcia. With the career head-to-head split at one apiece and an interesting contrast in offensive style, this is about as close to even a matchup as you can get at this stage in the tournament. Where Keys thrives on the power of her groundstrokes, Garcia is more reliant on depth and placement, but both women can paint the lines on occasion, which should lead to both some electrifying exchanges and highlight-reel winners from both ends. If you had to pick a favourite, you’d probably take Keys based on her easier run through the field, but there’s a good chance whoever wins this one, it takes an absolute rollercoaster of a match to get there.


Novak Djokovic (SRB) [14] v Hyeon Chung (KOR) – 1st Match, Night Session on Rod Laver

Having come through three rounds where realistically, his toughest opponent was the weather, Djokovic should be set for a major step-up in facing the third-round conqueror of Sascha Zverev. Djokovic’s next stop on his come-back tour takes a big step. Already having made his tournament with the upset of Zverev, Hyeon Chung comes into this match with absolutely nothing to lose, not to mention a baseline game that somewhat mirrors the Serb’s, making him a particularly dangerous proposition. Assuming the 21-year-old Korean’s five-set battle with Zverev hasn’t drained him (and it shouldn’t, he did win the fifth 6-0 after all), expect plenty of grinding rallies and magical backhands from both ends, with a realistic chance this goes much further than most expect.


Barbora Strycova (CZE) [20] v Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [6] – 2nd Match, Night Session on Rod Laver

There’s nothing quite like a good beef, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here between Strycova and Pliskova. Countrywomen and former Fed Cup doubles partners, the two have been feuding since October of last year, after Strycova’s coach of two years, Tomas Krupa, defected to Pliskova’s camp for the 2018 season. Now they get a chance to hash it out on the tennis court, and the expectation is that things get heated. Down 2-1 in the head-to-head with her opponent now in possession of the full scouting report, expect Strycova to throw every ounce of venom she has into her shots – which is a dangerous, if fun game against the heavy-hitting Pliskova. Winners and errors should flow in equal measure, but in any case, come for the tennis, and stay for the frosty post-match handshake.


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