So long, Kevin Anderson.

The first truly big name (no pun intended) to fall at this year’s Aussie Open, the 2018 Wimbledon finalist fell to Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 in a result that has completely opened up his quarter.

Already down its other big seed with John Isner bowing out in the first round, the sole remaining player of note in that sector is 20th seed Grigor Dimitrov, but certainly after today, Tiafoe also deserves consideration.

Having struggled in the past keeping his composure in big matches, and down a set and 3-0 to Anderson, it would’ve been no surprise to see Tiafoe sent packing. Instead, the 20-year-old managed to find his best tennis, mixing clever tactical play with some ridiculous shotmaking. Obviously there’s still a long way to go, but he’s been heavily-hyped for good reason — maybe now’s the time he delivers on it.

Here’s your three-to-see on Thursday in Melbourne:

Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) [13] – First on Court 3

At 18 years old and with an Auckland finals appearance under her belt, 2019 has already been a very good year for Bianca Andreescu, but now she faces her biggest test yet in 2018 US Open semi-finalist Anastasija Sevastova. An interesting matchup, both players like to play offensive-minded, all-court tennis, albeit with Andreescu more reliant on power and Sevastova favouring touch, and while the latter’s ranking certainly gives her the “favourite” tag, that contrast will make Andreescu feel like the match is on her racquet. Whether Sevastova can make it awkward enough to stop Andreescu hitting through her is the question that will decide this match, but either way we’re likely to get three sets, with plenty of winners, more than a few net approaches, and the occasional cheeky dropshot along the way. Should be a fun one.

Milos Raonic (CAN) [16] v Stan Wawrinka (SUI) – Second on Rod Laver Arena

Having already improved on his 2018 Aussie Open performance with a straightforward win over Nick Kyrgios, the next step for Milos Raonic is to re-announce himself as a title contender – the problem is, the man on the other side of the net, Stan Wawrinka, is trying to do the exact same thing too. Holding a 4-2 head-to-head advantage, Wawrinka certainly knows how to get the best of the Canadian, but Raonic can take solace in the fact he’s won their last two encounters, and that Wawrinka looked very sloppy before first round opponent Ernests Gulbis’ retirement. That said, count Stan out at your own peril, and as one of the few players on tour who can match him for power from the baseline, Raonic can hardly afford to get sloppy. Indeed, expect Wawrinka’s backhand against Raonic’s forehand to be as even a contest of weapons as it usually is, and whether it’s three sets or five, this one to turn on only a few points.

Novak Djokovic (SRB) [1] v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) – Second Match, Night Session on RLA

A scant 11 years after they first met on these courts in the 2008 final, and nine years after the rematch in the 2010 quarters, the time has finally arrived for the rubber match between Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open. Leading 16-6 in the head-to-head, and being, you know… the number one player in the world, Djokovic comes into this one a strong favourite, but this early in the tournament it’s possible Tsonga could catch him in a lower gear, and with his explosive game that means there’s at least slight upset potential. Of course, it doesn’t help matters that Tsonga has played hardly any tennis in the past twelve months, but he showed some flashes of his old self in making the semi-finals in Brisbane, and even if he’s only capable of the occasional barrage of redline tennis, it will be more than enough to make this an entertaining game of cat and mouse.


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