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Barty and de Minaur flying Aussie flag

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17th January, 2019
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Newcombe Medallists Ashleigh Barty and Alex de Minaur are out to lead the local brigade into the Australian Open fourth round on Friday.

Australia’s top-ranked player Barty is looking to eclipse her best finish at a home grand slam after reaching the third round at Melbourne Park in her previous two appearances.

She takes on Greece’s Maria Sakkari, ranked world No.43, in the first match up on Rod Laver Arena.

Teen sensation de Minaur has already eclipsed his previous best Australian Open result and will have his work cut out against world No.2 and 17-time major winner Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard is taking on his third Australian in as many matches after already accounting for James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden.

Another member of Australia’s Gen Next, Kimberly Birrell has a chance to notch another big scalp in a breakout summer.

The 20-year-old faces Germany’s Angelique Kerber, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2016 Australian Open winner.

Kerber has been in ominous form, cruising past two lowly-ranked opponents in straight sets in her opening matches.

In other matches, a spicy encounter is looming between defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki and 2008 title-holder Maria Sharapova.

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The pair have traded barbs over the last few years but haven’t played each other since 2015.

© AAP