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Day 5: Three to see at AO 2023

  • Gill Tan

The round of 32 is upon us on Friday, which means only one thing: the battle of the seeds can begin. 

MORE: Day 5 schedule of play

With immense difficulty, we hand-picked a few of Friday's must-see matches.

(29) Sebastian Korda v (7) Daniil Medvedev

Head-to-head: 0-1

Fourteen months have elapsed since Medvedev secured a comeback 4-6 6-1 6-3 win over Korda at the 2021 Rolex Paris Masters.

The American, armed with more experience on tour, will back himself to turn the tables against his older adversary after a strong start to 2023.

MORE: AO 2023 men's singles draw

In Adelaide, the 22-year-old posted straight-sets wins over Andy Murray, Jannik Sinner and Roberto Bautista Agut and, playing lights-out tennis, earned a match point against Novak Djokovic, who has not lost on Australian soil in five years.

"[I'll] take a lot of positives from it," Korda, who has three top-10 wins to his name, said after his three-set defeat by the Serb. 

"It shows me that I definitely have the game to disrupt whoever's on the other side of the net. I take a lot of pride in that.

"I'm finally getting that feeling of 'I belong here, I belong to play with these guys', I think it only just gives me heaps of confidence going forward. 

"I know what I'm capable of. Just waiting for my time."

Medvedev, 26, will do everything he can to make sure Korda's time isn't now. The former world No.1 has dropped just 12 games through his first two matches. While he'll be wary of the challenge Korda presents, the seventh seed is planning for a deep run Down Under.

Medvedev, last year's runner-up, has barely been stretched in two matches (Getty Images)

"I know what I have to do and how I have to play to try to win these tournaments," said the two-time finalist at Melbourne Park, who broke through to win the 2021 US Open. 

"I'm feeling really confident, really motivated to try to [have] a better season this year. It all starts here like every year, so [I'm] looking forward to my next matches."

(22) Elena Rybakina v (13) Danielle Collins

Head-to-head: 1-1

The Wimbledon 2022 champion and AO 2022 finalist are preparing to clash for a second time this month.

At the Adelaide International, the 23-year-old upset Collins 5-7 6-2 6-3, and will be eager to repeat the feat.

The Kazakh is vying for a career-first fourth round Australian Open berth, and is definitely going to be fresher.

MORE: AO 2023 women's singles draw

Thanks to straightforward wins over Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Kaja Juvan, Rybakina has spent just two hours and 21 minutes on court this tournament, less than half the six hours put in by 29-year-old Collins, who dropped sets to both Anna Kalinskaya and Karolina Muchova.

The American's intensity is almost unmatched on tour, and as a result, she's been a magnet for appreciative and vocal, supportive fans Down Under who could become a factor on Kia Arena.

"I just feel like I can play my best tennis here, I feel like with the crowd support and how fired up everybody gets and supports us, it just brings so much positive energy," said Collins, whose career breakthrough came in a run to the AO 2019 semifinals, when she upset 2016 Melbourne Park champion Angelique Kerber.

"This is kind of known as the 'Happy Slam' so I feel a bit happier when I'm here," she added. 

"I can get a little bit fired up and down on myself, but everybody has just been so encouraging over the years, [there are] so many familiar faces and people that have consistently come to my matches."

(18) Karen Khachanov v (16) Frances Tiafoe

Head-to-head: 2-0

It's this pair's first meeting on a hard court, which could make all the difference for the 24-year-old Tiafoe.

The affable American has produced his best results on the surface, soaring to a career-high No.17 after a run to the final four at last year's US Open, where he scored a string of upsets over Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev, among others.

Friday's meeting on a hard court could provide decisive for Tiafoe (Getty Images)

Tiafoe is after revenge for a pair of losses to Khachanov at Wimbledon. During their 2018 battle, Tiafoe led by two-sets-to-love – an advantage he'll seek to protect if he ends up in that position this time around.

The right-hander is undefeated this year, posting five wins at the United Cup to help Team USA to an inaugural title.

But 26-year-old Khachanov will have other ideas. He, too, reached a career-first major semifinal last year at Flushing Meadows with gutsy five-set upsets over Nick Kyrgios and Pablo Carreno Busta.

After four consecutive trips to the third round of the Australian Open, can the former world No.8 upset Tiafoe to nab a place in the final 16? We can't wait to see how this one unfolds.