Fourth round awaits for two Australians

Nick Kyrgios will be in line for a showdown with Rafael Nadal if he beats Karen Khachanov.
Nick Kyrgios will be in line for a showdown with Rafael Nadal if he beats Karen Khachanov.

Australia could have two men in the Australian Open fourth round for the first time in five years if Nick Kyrgios and Alexei Popyrin succeed in Saturday action at Melbourne Park.

Kygrios advanced through to the quarter-finals back in 2015, fighting back from two sets down to beat Italian Andreas Seppi in a five-set thriller in the fourth round.

Kyrgios was then eliminated in straight sets by former world No.1 Andy Murray.

Bernard Tomic also flew the flag in the round of 16, falling to Czech Tomas Berdych, who was then world No.7.

Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov stands in the way of Kyrgios this year, with the Australian getting his wish for a rowdy Melbourne Arena night match.

The only time the two have played was at last year's Cincinnati Masters, when Kyrgios lost the plot as well as the match, and was fined for verballing abusing a chair umpire.

A win is expected to set up a dream showdown with Rafael Nadal.

Popyrin has a formidable challenge in another Russian, world No.4 Daniil Medvedev, with that match the last of the night session on Rod Laver Arena.

The pair have only met once, in the second round at Wimbledon last year when Medvedev won a tight tussle 6-7 (8-6) 6-1 6-4 6-4.

"I played him in Wimbledon last year and was a really tough match, exhausting one," Medvedev said.

"A really close one - I managed to win it, but already at the last Australian Open we saw how he can play in grand slams in front of the home crowd.

"So it's not gonna be easy."

In other matches, world No.2 Czech Karolina Pliskova takes on 30th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the opening day match on Rod Laver Arena.

Simona Halep, the 2018 beaten finalist, follows them on to court against Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan.

World No.34 American Taylor Fritz is up against fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem in day action on Margaret Court Arena.

Australian Associated Press