Alex de Minaur.
Alex de Minaur has knocked world No.1 Novak Djokovic from the prime late slot on Rod Laver Arena. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
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De Minaur bumps Djokovic to day slot at Australian Open

Oliver Caffrey January 21, 2024

Alex de Minaur’s star is so much on the rise he has bumped the king of Melbourne Park, Novak Djokovic, to a rare day slot on Rod Laver Arena.

Australian Open organisers have scheduled de Minaur’s fourth-round showdown against Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev for the prime-time night session on Sunday.

It ends 15-straight matches for Djokovic in Melbourne at night, with the 10-time Open champion last playing during the day in 2021 – when he overcame American Frances Tiafoe in sweltering conditions across four sets.

The Serbian superstar is expected to account for French journeyman Adrian Mannarino, who has started the tournament with three-consecutive five-set matches and has never made the quarter-finals of a major.

Novak Djokovic.
 Fourth-round day will bring a rare afternoon slot for champion Novak Djokovic on Rod Laver Arena. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

De Minaur, who has entered his home grand slam in career-best form, will relish the opportunity to play in front of a huge crowd on the show court.

“I would love to play on RLA,” the 24-year-old said before the Sunday schedule was confirmed.

“That prime-time slot is pretty special, and you’ve got to earn it.

“But ultimately it doesn’t really matter when I play; whether I play first match, whether I play last. 

“Whether I play on RLA or court 27, I’m still going to be the same.”

World No.10 de Minaur will take the confidence of a 3-2 winning record against Rublev into his last-16 match.

A fourth victory over the Russian would thrust de Minaur into a quarter-final against either the fourth-seeded Sinner or world No.15 Karen Khachanov.

De Minaur has only reached the final-eight once in a major – at the 2020 US Open when he bowed out to eventual champion Dominic Thiem.

Alex de Minaur.
 Home hope Alex De Minaur has started 2024 on a golden run of form. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

After crashing out in the fourth round at the past two Australian Opens, de Minaur is primed to finally make it to the quarter-finals of his home grand slam.

“I’ll try to get a little bit better and beat my personal best, get to a quarter-finals. That’s the first step,” he said.

“I’ve made a couple of fourth rounds in the past. 

“I maybe have gotten to that point and not played the type of match I wanted to. 

“I’m hoping I can break that barrier and go one further.”