Preview: Nadal, Tsitsipas, Medvedev Eye Third Round On Australian Open Day 3 | ATP Tour

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Defending champion Rafael Nadal headlines a star-studded schedule Wednesday at the 2023 Australian Open, where the Spaniard seeks to carry the momentum from his opening win into a second-round clash against Mackenzie McDonald.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Felix Auger-Aliassime are among the other ATP Tour stars in action from the top half of the draw on Day 3 at the first Grand Slam of the season, while 10 rescheduled bottom-half matches will also be played. They include home hope Thanasi Kokkinakis’ interrupted match against Fabio Fognini, in which the Australian is just two games short of victory. runs through some of the key matchups on show at Melbourne Park.

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[1] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Mackenzie McDonald (USA)

A second Grand Slam meeting for defending champion Nadal and the World No. 65 McDonald is scheduled third on Rod Laver Arena, where the Spaniard will hope for a similar result to his 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 victory against the American on the Roland Garros clay in 2020.

McDonald has scaled new heights since that match in Paris, however. He broke the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time in February last year and is undoubtedly a different proposition on the hard courts of Melbourne Park, where he enjoyed his equal-best run at a Grand Slam by reaching the fourth round in 2021.

It will nonetheless take an almighty effort for the 27-year-old to upset Nadal. The Spaniard is chasing a record-extending 23rd major title this fortnight and is ready to draw confidence from his opening victory against fast-rising Briton Jack Draper as he seeks to create more history in Melbourne.

“I am ready for the challenge,” said Nadal after clinching just his second win in eight matches with the win against Draper on Monday. “I’m ready to keep fighting for it. And victory helps, I can’t lie [to] you [about] that. When you win matches, you are more relaxed. You are more confident. You have better chances to resist these [difficult] moments.”

[3] Stefanos Tsitsipas [GRE] vs. [WC] Rinky Hijikata (AUS)

Tsitsipas can rise to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time by lifting his maiden Grand Slam crown in Melbourne. With that double-reward in mind, the Greek will hope to back up his impressive first-round win against Quentin Halys by seeing off home hope Hijikata.

The 21-year-old Hijikata is riding high after rallying from two-sets-to-love down against Yannick Hanfmann to claim his maiden Grand Slam win in dramatic circumstances on Monday. Taking on three-time Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas next may appear a daunting task, but the former University of North Carolina student-athlete is ready to give it his best shot.

“I’m pumped. It’s the same thing when I said I played Daniil [Medvedev in Los Cabos] and same thing I said when I played Rafa [at the 2022 US Open],” Hijikata told this week. “I’m very excited. I’m not going to shy away from these matches. These are the ones you dream of playing when you are a kid and why you work so hard.

“I’m going to come out and try to play my game. I’m not going to leave any stone unturned. That’s for sure. I’m going to go out there and give it a massive crack.”

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[7] Daniil Medvedev (SRB) vs. [WC] John Millman (AUS)

Medvedev will also be preparing to take on a partisan home crowd on Wednesday in his first tour-level meeting against John Millman.

Like his countryman Hijikata, Millman came through a five-set thriller to book his spot in the second round. The 33-year-old ousted Marc-Andrea Huesler in four hours, five-minutes, and will hope he has recovered well as he plots to bring down one of the Tour’s most consistent Australian Open performers of recent years.

The 26-year-old Medvedev is bidding to reach the third round for the fifth year in a row and stay on track to become the fourth man in the Open Era to reach three consecutive Australian Open finals. Perhaps just as ominously for Millman, the seventh seed dropped just three games in his first-round victory against Marcos Giron.

Also In Action…

The fourth Top 10 player taking to court Wednesday is Felix Auger-Aliassime. The sixth seed overcame a tricky start to down Vasek Pospisil in four sets in his Melbourne Park opener, and Auger-Aliassime will look to build on his strong finish in that match against World No. 53 Alex Molcan. The Slovakian won the pair’s only previous tour-level meeting in a deciding-set tie-break last year in Marrakech.

Hubert Hurkacz also trails his second-round opponent, Lorenzo Sonego, in their ATP Head2Head series. The 10th-seeded Pole has won just one of his four tour-level meetings with the Italian, but that victory came in the pair’s sole clash on outdoor hard courts in Auckland in 2020. Hurkacz is attempting to reach the third round for the first time on his fifth Australian Open main draw appearance.

Cameron Norrie, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe are among the other seeds seeking second-round success on Wednesday. The 11th-seeded Norrie faces Constant Lestienne, the 30-year-old Frenchman playing in the Melbourne main draw for the first time. Sinner meets World No. 79 Tomas Martin Etcheverry, while 16th seed Frances Tiafoe will try to stop the surge of 17-year-old Chinese qualifier Shang Juncheng.

A meeting between 32nd seed Botic van de Zandschulp and Tallon Griekspoor, who lifted his maiden ATP Tour crown in Pune earlier this month, will guarantee Dutch representation in the third round, while wild card Jason Kubler is the third and final Australian hoping to push deeper at his home Grand Slam. The 29-year-old takes on 18th seed Karen Khachanov.

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