Day 7 preview: The path clears for Barty

  • David Cox

With Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka now out of the tournament, the hype surrounding world No.1 Ash Barty and her chances of winning the Australian Open will be stepping up a notch as she looks to book her place in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

MORE: Day 7 schedule of play 

Barty faces her toughest test of the tournament so far on Australia Day as she opens the night session at Rod Laver Arena against dangerous No.18 seed Alison Riske

MORE: AO2020 women’s draw

The pair met at the same stage at Wimbledon last year, with Riske dumping the Aussie out of the tournament in three sets. After a couple of impressive straight-sets victories in the past couple of rounds, Barty will be vying for revenge.

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Barty has revenge over Riske on her mind after Wimbledon last year

Roger Federer’s hopes appeared to be hanging by a thread deep in the fifth set against John Millman on Friday night. 

MORE: AO2020 men’s draw

The six-time champion somehow prevailed in a classic which lasted more than four hours, and the main question will be whether the Swiss has anything left in the tank as he follows Barty at RLA against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

The unusually cool weather in Melbourne this year will certainly have helped Federer as he looks to drag his 38-year-old body into yet another quarterfinal at Melbourne Park. He will need to step up a level against Fucsovics, who has proven to be one of the surprise packages of the tournament thus far, taking out young guns Denis Shapovalov, Jannik Sinner and Tommy Paul.

The Hungarian always seems to play his best tennis at the Australian Open, also reaching the fourth round two years ago where Federer beat him in straight sets on his way to the title. A repeat performance would suit the Swiss just fine.

All eyes will be on Coco Gauff as she looks to back up her stunning victory over Osaka and make her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. 

With Osaka and Williams gone, the 15-year-old’s quarter of the draw is wide open – Ons Jabeur and Williams’ conqueror Qiang Wang play in the other match in that section – although her opponent, No.14 seed Sofia Kenin has yet to drop a set so far in the tournament.

Last year’s finalist Petra Kvitova takes on Greece’s rising star Maria Sakkari at RLA in another intriguing fourth-round clash between two in-form players. Kvitova has been rampant so far this fortnight, dropping just three games against No.25 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Sakkari stunned No.10 seed Madison Keys 6-4 6-4 in the last round. The pair played three times last year, with Sakkari winning two of them in Rome and Cincinnati. Another upset could well be in store here.

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Djokovic has been in ominous form as the rounds have rolled on in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic is also in fourth-round action against No.14 seed Diego Schwartzman on RLA. The Argentine has yet to drop a set so far, but Djokovic has won all three of their previous matches. However, Schwartzman pushed the Serb to five sets at the French Open three years ago, and will take heart from that performance in what could be the defending champion’s first serious test.