Barty, Nadal, de Minaur in Open action

·2-min read

A grab bag of heavyweight men's contenders will take to largely empty Australian Open stadiums on Saturday as a very different second week looms for the season-opening grand slam.

With Victoria moving into a five-day lockdown in response to the spread of the UK variant of COVID-19, crowds will not be present at Melbourne Park through to at least Thursday.

They'll certainly be missing out.

Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas all headline while Alex de Minaur flies the flag for the home nation.

Nadal will face Brit Cameron Norrie for the first time, the Spanish No.2 seed looking to continue his record of not dropping a set in the tournament.

Medvedev, who's on a 16-match winning streak, still may not have things his own way against Filip Krajinovic, who beat the Russian the only time they played in 2019.

Fifth-seed Tsitsipas takes on Swedish surprise-packet Michael Ymer and will be looking for a much easier time of things after being pushed to five sets by Thanasi Kokkinakis in the previous round.

While edged in ranking, de Minaur will fancy his chances of springing an upset against 16th seed Fabio Fognini after the Italian needed a fifth-set tiebreak to beat compatriot Salvatore Caruso in their spicy round two encounter.

The support cast is also nothing to sneeze at with top-10 players Andrey Rublev and Matteo Berrettini also in action.

On the women's side, Ash Barty headlines the night session in her first encounter with Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Barty has been relatively untroubled in her two matches so far, a tiebreak against compatriot Daria Gavrilova on Thursday the hardest she's been pushed.

It's an otherwise relatively low-key day for the women.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina takes on Yulia Putintseva; sixth seed Karolina Pliskova battles Karolina Muchova and 11th seed Belinda Bencic comes up against Elise Mertens.

Last year's US Open semi-finalist Jennifer Brady, Anett Kontaveit and Donna Vekic also feature in the third round.