Australian Open day five preview: Djokovic, Osaka and Kyrgios star

Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka headline day five of the Australian Open on Friday, while Nick Kyrgios will take on US Open champion Dominic Thiem in the most anticipated match of the tournament so far.

World No.1 and defending champion Djokovic will again take to the Rod Laver Arena where he will face American Taylor Fritz in the third round.

The eight-time Australian Open champion made it through after a physical match against Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday, but should remain unscathed against Fritz who he has beaten on two previous occasions.

Third seed Osaka, who is in hot form and tournament favourite, faces a third-round tie against 27th seed Ons Jabeur.

The 2019 Australian Open Champion has not lost a match since the WTA tour restarted last year and has not yet dropped a set in this tournament.

But Jabeur, who became the first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in Melbourne last year, is playing some of the best tennis of her career and is sure to test Osaka with her creative play.

Whoever wins that match will face either 14th seed Garbine Muguruza or Zarina Diyas in the fourth round, who are also playing on Friday.

However, the match everyone will be talking about is World No.3 Thiem against home favourite Kyrgios.

Kyrgios beat Ugo Humbert after coming back from two match points down to win in five sets on Wednesday.

The Australian is known for his highlight-reels trickery and heated temperament, which, tied in with a sold-out roaring home crowd, albeit with limited capacity due to COVID, could overwhelm Thiem.

Kyrgios has dropped serve five times across his first two matches, and so will need to keep mistakes to a minimum to beat the 2020 Australian Open finalist, who is yet to drop a set.

World No.2 Simona Halep will also be in action against Veronika Kudermetova.

Halep had a tough second round, only just defeating Australian Ajla Tomljanović by the skin of her teeth and will need to remain composed to beat the 32nd seed.

Serena Williams is facing Anastasia Potapova in another step on the road to reaching her record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.  

Williams has had an easy start to the tournament, beating both Laura Siegemund and Nina Stojanović in two sets to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the 19th time.

Potapova has also won both her rounds in straight sets, but may be in over her head against Williams, who demolished the Russian in Melbourne last year.

Another interesting tie in the men’s game will be between fellow Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Left-handed Shapovalov has a 2-1 advantage over his counterpart, and is the favourite to win this match after surviving a five-set thriller over Jannik Sinner earlier this week.

You can check out all of SWL’s Australian Open coverage here.

Featured image credit: Peter Menzel via Wikipedia Commons

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