Sofia Kenin awaits in the semi-finals
With the nation’s recently-installed favourite athlete of all-time, Nick Kyrgios, now departed from the single’s draw, home hopes firmly rest on the shoulders of Ash Barty, a woman who genuinely has a lock on a place in Australian hearts. Today on Rod Laver Arena, the world No 1 faces her toughest challenge yet at this year’s tournament at Melbourne Park.
Barty comes into this clash having won her last three matches against Petra Kvitová, but also with the memory of last year’s drubbing at the hands of the Czech at the same stage of the Australian Open lingering in the back of her mind. Of course, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then – including wins for Barty in Miami, Beijing and at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen, not to mention a French Open triumph and her ascension to the summit of the rankings – and she should be quietly confident of going further than she has been before at this tournament by booking a spot in the semi-finals.
Kvitová does hold a career 4-3 head-to-head record against Barty, though. And the Australian is expecting a tough outing against the two-time Wimbledon champion. “I think I’m looking forward to another battle against a quality opponent,” she said earlier this week. It promises to be an intriguing afternoon of tennis in the sunshine on Rod Laver Arena.
And later on, Roger Federer takes on the unseeded American, Tennys Sandgren in the men’s quarter-finals before Novak Djokovic headlines the evening session on Rod Laver with a match against Canada’s Milos Raonic.
All that and more to come. Time now just quickly for some housekeeping before we get underway – do email your thoughts to email@example.com or if Twitter is your thing, it’s @mike_hytner.