After an eventful first five days at the 2023 Australian Open, Saturday’s action will narrow the men’s singles field to 16 as the third round draws to a close.

Two men’s matches feature on Rod Laver Arena — Novak Djokovic vs. Grigor Dimitrov and Alex de Minaur vs. Benjamin Bonzi — while Andy Murray takes on 24th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in a Margaret Court Arena evening match. breaks down some key contests on Day 6 in Melbourne.


[4] Novak Djokovic (SER) vs. [27] Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)

Djokovic hopes to repeat his heroics from the 2021 Australian Open, when he won the title despite dealing with an abdominal tear. Entering this year’s event with a left hamstring injury, the Serbian has managed the problem well so far, even if he required a medical timeout during his four-set win against Enzo Couacaud on Friday.

“My situation with my injury is not ideal,” he said in his post-match presser. “I wish that some things were different with the way I feel with my leg, but it is what it is. I have to take it day by day.”

He later added: “I am worried. I cannot say that I’m not. I have reason to be worried.”

That statement could also apply to his 10th ATP Head2Head meeting with Dimitrov. The Bulgarian has beaten Djokovic only once, but they have not met since 2019 when they squared off at the Rolex Paris Masters.

The 27th-seeded Dimitrov has not lost a set this fortnight, with wins against 2021 Melbourne semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev and Serbian Laslo Djere. Djokovic, despite his strong record against the Bulgarian, is expecting a stern test.

“I’m going to try to play and compete with, of course, a great player, Dimitrov, in a couple days’ time,” he said. “I know matches are only going to get tougher for me from here.”

Djokovic’s preparations will not include his usual off-day practice session as he aims to give his hamstring as much time as possible to recover. Still, the nine-time champion remains the favourite to lift what would be a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title next Sunday. Should the 35-year-old win his 10th AO crown, he will leave Melbourne atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since last June.

[24] Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)

Bautista Agut and Murray’s previous Australian Open meeting will live long in the memory. In the 2019 first round, former World No. 1 Murray took to court after admitting it could be the final match of his career due to a hip injury. Cue a five-set classic that saw Bautista Agut hold off a resurgent Murray to prevail, before the Briton gave a tear-jerking on-court interview reasserting just how uncertain his future as a professional player was.

Four years on and Murray is still here, and still demonstrating remarkable resilience in Melbourne. The 35-year-old spent more than 10 hours on court in defeating Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis (in a match that finished at 4:05 a.m. local time) in his first two matches this year. After completing a five-set win of his own against Brandon Holt in the second round, Bautista Agut reflected on Murray’s journey since their 2019 clash.

“I don’t know what he wanted to do in that match [four years ago],” said the Spaniard. “But I’m happy for him that he’s in good shape, he is winning good matches, and he is enjoying the court again.”

Bautista Agut is on a roll against Murray, winning his past three matches against the five-time Australian Open finalist. They include dropping just six games in total across meetings in Doha and Basel last year, victories that levelled the pair’s ATP Head2Head series at 3-3. Which man will edge ahead with Saturday success on Margaret Court Arena?

[5] Andrey Rublev vs. [25] Daniel Evans (GBR)

Another duo that has evenly split its six previous tour-level meetings is fifth seed Rublev and 25th seed Evans. Their third-round matchup on Margaret Court Arena represents an intriguing clash of styles, with Rublev’s ultra-powerful baseline game contrasting starkly with Evans’ variation and fast hands at the net.

The World No. 6 Rublev bids to reach the fourth round in Melbourne for the third time. Evans has also reached that stage before, in 2017, when he defeated then-World No. 7 Marin Cilic in the second round. That remains the 32-year-old Briton’s only victory in seven matches against Top 10 opponents at Grand Slams.

Also In Action…

Holger Rune raced to the third round with straight-sets wins against potentially tricky opponents in Filip Krajinovic and Maxime Cressy, and the ninth seed aims to back up those displays against Ugo Humbert. The #NextGenATP Dane defeated Humbert twice in 2022, in Indian Wells and Basel. If he completes a hat-trick of wins against the Frenchman on Saturday, Rune will secure his second fourth-round appearance at a major.

The final two Australians involved in singles action in Melbourne are Alex de Minaur and Alexei Popyrin. The pair seeks to keep alive home hopes in third-round clashes with Benjamin Bonzi and Ben Shelton, respectively. The 22nd seed De Minaur is playing in the fourth round for the second consecutive year and carries a 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead into his clash against France’s Bonzi.

Alongside #NextGenATP talent Shelton, four other American’s are in Saturday action. Jenson Brooksby attempts to follow upsetting second seed Casper Ruud with victory against Tommy Paul, while J.J. Wolf takes on lucky loser Michael Mmoh.


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