As we prepare to enter day four of the Australian Open (still in just the second round) local hopefuls are being eliminated at a rapid rate. With only one Australian seed in each of the men’s and women’s draws (Alex de Minaur, 27 and Ashleigh Barty, 15) the Aussies were never expected to make an impact deep into the second week.
De Minaur and Barty are both through to the third round, along with surprise packet Kimberley Birrell. Today two more Aussie men, Alex Bolt and Alexel Popyrin, will fight to join them in the round of 32. There were initially 12 Australian men and 10 women in the single’s draw.
In the men’s competition former teenage sensations Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkanakis all crashed out in the first found, along with James Duckworth, Marc Polmans and Jason Kubler. They were followed in the second round by Matt Ebden, John Millman and Jordan Thompson.
The Australian women have been equally disappointing, with Ellen Perez, Priscilla Hon, Sam Stosur, Darla Gavrilova, Destanee Alava and Ajla Tomljanovic losing in the first round. In the second round Zoe Hives and Astra Sharma joined them.
De Minaur will face second seed Rafael Nadal tomorrow in the third round – the third Australian to try and stop the second most successful male player of all time. Nadal beat Duckworth and Ebden in straight sets in his first two games, and despite reports of an ankle injury de Minaur doesn’t look like having much of a chance.
Today Bolt faces Giles Simon, the 29th seed, while Popyrin will take on Dominic Thiem, ranked 7th. Neither is being given much chance by the bookies, and it looks likely that de Minaur will be the only Australian man in the third round.
The famously parochial Melbourne crowd will need to find favourites from overseas to support, with Roger Federer the most likely candidate. Nadal also traditionally enjoys immense support at Melbourne Park, while on the women’s side of the draw Barty will hope to progress to next week.