Local hopes Rinky Hijikata and John Millman face enormous hurdles to the third round of the Australian Open, with the pair taking on two of the best players in the world on Night 3 at Melbourne Park.
Hijikata will take on third seed and three-time Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, while Millman faces last year’s finalist and former world number one Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev and Hijikata have met once before on the Tour, with Medvedev winning through in straight sets in Los Cabos last August.
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Nadal lashes out at chair umpire | 00:32
Millman and Tsitsipas have also met once, with Tsitsipas winning in 2018 in Sweden in a deciding set.
Elsewhere, a whole host of matches are still to be completed after rain delays left most of the courts at Melbourne Park unplayable.
Not for the first time at the tournament, the quality of this year’s tennis balls came under scrutiny from one of the world’s top players.
Felix Auger-Aliassime eventually prevailed in five sets over his unseeded opponent, but raised queries over the quality of the balls during the match.
“I never complain about this but the balls are not bouncing,” Auger-Aliassime could be heard saying.
“I mean, we’re hitting normal but I don’t know. I know you can’t do anything, but I don’t know if it’s the batch of cans but it’s terrible.”
The umpire replied: “I’ll double check this to make sure they’re feeling normal.”
Auger-Aliassime handed the ball to the umpire but was fuming.
“I’m bouncing the ball to serve, I know, I know (what it is supposed to feel like),” the sixth seed said.
“I’ve never seen it before.”
Rafael Nadal also questioned the quality of the balls ahead of this year’s event, which he exited on Wednesday after an injury-marred defeat at the hands of American Mackenzie McDonald.
KUBLER v KHACHANOV
On John Cain Arena, Jason Kubler faced a stiff test of his own, matched up against 18th seed Karen Khachanov.
Khachanov ended Nick Kyrgios’ US Open title hopes last year, defeating the Australian in a five-set quarterfinal.
It was a difficult start for Kubler, who was broken by Khachanov before settling into a rhythm on his serve.
He forced Khachanov to serve for the set at 5-4, but he did just that to take the opener in 42 minutes.
Down a break at 4-5, Kubler generated a break point chance.
What followed was an engrossing 70-shot rally, which went the way of Kubler following a net cord, sending the crowd into meltdown.
The rally narrowly avoided setting history, with Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils still holding the record from a 2013 exchange at the event.
Going ahead 6-5, Kubler then earned several break points, converting one of them to take the second set 7-5 and get the John Cain Arena crowd even more fired up.
Kubler continued to hold his own from that point on, holding serve while pressing Khachanov on return.
Midway through the set, Khachanov would break serve and then, with a set point at 5-4, came through after another lengthy rally to take a two-sets-to-one lead.
Khachanov ultimately pulled through, however, breaking Kubler on multiple occasions in the fourth set to prevail 6-2 in the final set.
MILLMAN v MEDVEDEV
Millman started poorly against Medvedev, getting broken to love by the former US Open champion.
Undeterred, however, Millman broke straight back.
Medvedev would go ahead a break yet again, but then was forced to multiple deuces at 3-2.
Millman would eventually convert on his fourth break point of the game to level things up a 3-all.
Medvedev then went a break ahead once more, but was broken by Millman yet again when serving for the set, making it six breaks in total from the first 10 games of the match.
Ultimately, there was one more break, with Medvedev going ahead 6-5 and then serving out the first set, which lasted just over an hour.
Medvedev once again went a break ahead in the second set, but this time held serve before backing up with a double break to go ahead 4-1.
He quickly closed out the set 6-2, then went ahead a break in the opening game of the third set.
On 1573 Arena in his resumed match, Aleksandar Vukic came from the brink of defeat to force a fifth set.
The Australian trailed 1-3 against American Brandon Holt, Vukic reeled off five straight games to win the fourth set and force a decider.
It proved a short-lived reprieve, however, with Holt once again pulling out ahead and ultimately winning the final set 6-3.
Thanasi Kokkinakis returned to Kia Arena for the resumption of his match against former world No.9 Fabio Fognini, needing just five points to seal victory and a second-round clash with Andy Murray.
Once again, Fognini barely looked interested in the match.
On Rod Laver Arena, Coco Gauff was made to work by Emma Raducanu, but ultimately prevailed in two sets.
Gauff was down two set points to the former US Open champion in the second set before ultimately steeling herself and coming through in a tiebreak.
Night 3 Order Of Play (all times AEDT)
Rod Laver Arena
Matches from 7pm
 Coco Gauff (USA) def. Emma Raducanu (GBR) 6-3, 7-6(4)
 Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) v Rinky Hijikata (AUS)
Margaret Court Arena
Matches from 7pm
John Millman (AUS) v  Daniil Medvedev (AUS)
Karolina Muchova (CZE) v  Danielle Collins (USA)
John Cain Arena
Matches from 5pm
 Karen Khachanov def. Jason Kubler (AUS) 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2
 Elena Rybakina (KAZ) v Kaja Juvan (SLO)
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) def. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 6-1 6-2 6-2
 Daria Kasatkina v Varvara Gracheva
Olivia Gadecki (AUS) v Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
 Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs Constant Lestienne (FRA)
Brandon Holt (USA) def. Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3