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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday January 20, 2024

Jannik Sinner

The top half of the men's draw kicks off the round of 16 on Day 8, with Jannik Sinner and Novak Djokovic both in action.

Photo Source: Getty

It’s time for the round of 16 at the 2024 Australian Open, and we’re here to preview what promises to be a blockbuster day at the Happy Slam – here’s what we’ll be watching on Day 8.

Tennis Express


Djokovic’s Biggest Test?

Novak Djokovic – he of the 24 major titles – inches closer to immortality with every victory he earns, and he’ll look to take another step on Sunday when he faces France’s Adrian Mannarino for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The Serbian juggernaut has won all 11 sets in four previous meetings with Mannarino, and he enters on the heels of his best match of the tournament, a 6-3 6-3 7-6(2) win over No.30 seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry. Meanwhile, Mannarino has played three five-setters to get to the round of 16 in Melbourne – he defeated Ben Shelton, 7-6(4) 1-6 6-7(2) 6-3 6-4, on Day 6.

The scene appears to be set for another Djokovic bloodletting but Mannarino has been a resurgent character on tour of late. He enters the Australian Open at a career-high ranking and as the No.1-ranked Frenchman, and he’s playing like it.

Anisimova Takes a Shot at the Crown

Remember two years ago, when Amanda Anisimova knocked off defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5) in the third round? It may seem like a while ago, but the 22-year-old American is in the process of recapturing her top level, which spells trouble for this year’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka.

The American has defeated Sabalenka in four of five previous meetings, and has displayed solid form since returning to tennis after her seven-month hiatus due to mental health reasons.

But Sabalenka has been vicious thus far in Melbourne, having dropped just six games through three rounds. Will the fact that she hasn’t been tested in the least affect her if she gets into a tight tussle against Anisimova. Odds are, we’ll find out…

Sinner v Khachanov Slugfest

Jannik Sinner and Karen Khachanov will lock horns for the first time since 2021 on Margaret Court Arena on Sunday, with the Italian hoping to reach his second quarterfinal in Melbourne, while Khachanov, a semifinalist last year, aims to create another deep run at the majors.

Sinner has taken the pair’s last two meetings and he’ll enter as the heavy favorite, given his form over the last six months and his newly acquired Top 5 ranking. Khachanov has had big success at the majors, having reached the semifinals in two of his last four appearances at the hard court Slams (2022 US Open, 2023 Australian Open), but he has lost his last eight against the Top 10 at the majors and owns a 1-14 overall record against the Top 10 at the Slams.

He’ll come out swinging for the fences, looking to push Sinner into a physical battle, but Sinner has the firepower to hit back – and he’ll most certainly use it.


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