British No 1 Dan Evans on course to meet seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic in third round while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet in semis as draw is made for first Grand Slam of the year
Dan Evans could find himself with one of the toughest tasks in world tennis at the Australian Open, where he was put on course to meet seven-time champion Novak Djokovic in the third round.
The British No 1, seeded 30, was on Thursday given a winnable path through to that potential meeting, starting with a first-round match against American McKenzie MacDonald.
Kyle Edmund, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, was given a difficult opener against Serbian No 2 Dusan Lajovic, the 24th seed.
Dan Evans could find himself with one of the toughest tasks in world tennis at Australian Open
In all there are six British singles player guaranteed to play in the main draw: Evans, Edmund, Cam Norrie, Jo Konta, Heather Watson and Katie Boulter.
At the draw Djokovic singled out Daniil Medvedev as the biggest threat of a generation that still cannot break through at the Majors. They are in the same half of the draw, while there is a scheduled clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the other men’s semi-final.
‘When it finally happens it will be good for the sport,’ said Djokovic of those trying to usurp the thirty-somethings.
Evans morning put an end to the 16-set winning streak of fellow early season form horse Andrey Rublev on Thursday morning, but he went on to lose his quarter-final at the ATP event in Adelaide 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
After a busy schedule for the start of the year a few days off to prepare for the Australian Open might not be the worst thing.
At the ASB Classic in Auckland Kyle Edmund often had the better of John Isner but was unable to break his serve, thereby losing his quarter final 7-6, 7-6, such a familiar scoreline for the giant American, who won seven fewer points than the British No 3.
He was put on course to meet seven-time champion Novak Djokovic in the third round
Watson was also in action in the last eight, this time at the rain-affected WTA Tour event in Hobart, playing top seed Elise Mertens.
After two days of smoggy smoke haze at Melbourne Park there was relief for organisers on Thursday as a sharp southerly breeze brought a drop in temperatures and dramatically reduced the air pollution from bushfires.
The much more normal conditions are likely to continue for 48 hours, although forecasters suggest that smoke levels could rise again at the weekend.
The heavy rain that arrived later on Wednesday afternoon was not said to have been sufficient to put out many fires in the affected areas, although the authorities stated that it would prove useful for containment.
There was a blow for the tournament when Australian men’s No 1 Alex de Minaur was ruled out of the tournament due to what he described as a four centimetre abdominal tear.
It had looked like he was overworked by captain Lleyton Hewitt at the ATP Cup earlier this month, and so it has proved for the highly promising 20-year-old.
There is a scheduled clash between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the men’s semi-finals