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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday January 23, 2022

Day 8 at the Australian will complete the round of 16 on the lower half of the men’s and women’s singles draws. Here’s what we’ll be keeping our eyes on.

Tennis Express

Alex de Minaur v Jannik Sinner

The Australian faithful will be going nuts for their last man standing, the Demon Alex de Minaur, who will face Italy’s Jannik Sinner with a trip to the quarters on the line.

Sinner has gotten the best of the Aussie in their previous two meetings, but they have not met since 2020. De Minaur was fabulous in week one, but so was Sinner. It’s going to be difficult to see how this one plays out. The passionate Aussie crowd will certainly help De Minaur, and the Aussie plays his very best tennis in Australia. Sinner, meanwhile, has the edge in firepower and he’ll look to use it – the pair will be playing in the final match of the day session and the faster conditions could work in his favor. But this match has drama written all over it.

Simona Halep v Alizé Cornet

Alizé Cornet - she of the 60 consecutive Grand Slam main draws played streak - will contest the round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time since 2009, when she squandered match points against Dinara Safina as a 19-year-old in a highly dramatic tilt. Crazy as it sounds, the Frenchwoman still has yet to breakthrough to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal, and she’ll be in for an uphill battle against the No.14 seeded Halep, who is a two-time Slam champion and making her way back to tip-top form.

Expect inspired tennis from Cornet, but she’ll be tested physically, and if she doesn’t have enough left in the tank, Halep could grind her to a pulp. The second match on Rod Laver means that they pair could be in for a hot one as well.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Halep is in great form and lost a mere 12 games in her first three rounds at Melbourne. And Cornet actually holds the 3-1 head-to-head advantage, but the pair have not met since 2015.

Maxime Cressy v Daniil Medvedev

Hard-serving American Maxime Cressy (current ranking: 70) believes he can be the best player in the world someday. That means he certainly won’t be shying away from the challenge of facing World No.2 Daniil Medvedev on Margaret Court Arena on Monday.

It is going to be extremely interesting to watch how Medvedev, a cagey returner that loves to camp out way behind the baseline against big servers, attacks the problem of facing a very skilled serve-and-volleyer. If he chooses to remain deep and Cressy executes, the Russian could be running side to side all day long.

But Medvedev is a skilled tactician and he will likely make it a point to give Cressy many different looks to keep him honest. This will be a fascinating contest from an X’s and O’s perspective and, no matter how it turns out, should be a great experience for Cressy, who is making just his fourth Grand Slam main draw appearance.

🍿 Other popcorn matchups 🍿

Taylor Fritz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will engage in a battle of first-strike tennis. Fritz will look to use his weapons and not let Tsitsipas turn the match into a physical battle. Tsitsipas will try to keep the American on defense … Aryna Sabalenka has won three straight matches from a set down in Melbourne, can she make it four against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Day 8? … Iga Swiatek has made the second week in six straight majors, and Sorana Cirstea is one of the most under-the-radar players remaining in the draw in Melbourne. Can the Romanian ruffle the feathers of the young Swiatek?


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