Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were leading the charge the last time the Australian Open saw what is happening in Melbourne in 2019.

Nadal, then 22, went on to win his first and, thus far, only title in the opening slam of the calendar by beating Roger Federer in the final.

A 21-year-old Djokovic, defending his maiden grand slam title, fell in the quarter-finals, while Murray got to the fourth round, months after losing a US Open decider to Federer.

The year was 2009. That trio was helping to form a dominant era in men's tennis alongside Federer and, 10 years on, the world still waits for the 'Next Gen' to break through.

But perhaps they are answering the challenge because 2019 marks the first time since a decade ago that at least seven players aged 22 or under have reached the last 32 at the Australian Open.

Back then, it was Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Marin Cilic, Juan Martin del Potro, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils. Only the two Frenchmen have been unable to go on and win a grand slam crown.

This year, there are 10 still standing – Alexander Zverev (21), Borna Coric (22), Stefanos Tsitsipas (20), Denis Shapovalov (19), Karen Khachanov (22), Daniil Medvedev (22), Alex de Minaur (19), Frances Tiafoe (20), Taylor Fritz (21) and Alexei Popyrin (19).

With Murray potentially having made his last Australian Open appearance due to his troublesome hip, it seems the time is just about right for the next generation.

Still, record six-time champions Federer and Djokovic, and Nadal, stand in their way. After all, one of the 'Big Four' have won 13 of the past 15 Australian Opens. They have won 53 of the previous 60 grand slams. This is dominance that will take some ending.

The youngsters will get their chances. Shapovalov faces Djokovic in the third round. If they make it that far, Medvedev could get the subsequent engagement with the Serbian great. Zverev and Coric are in the second quarter. Whoever makes the most of their opportunity may face Djokovic in a semi-final, although Milos Raonic appears a huge danger.

Tsitsipas could get a shot at his idol Federer in what would be an entertaining fourth-round clash, while De Minaur faces Nadal in the third round in the bottom half of the draw.

When Nadal won the title in 2009, Federer ended the run of Del Potro, while Andy Roddick beat Djokovic and Murray lost a five-setter to Fernando Verdasco.

The 'Next Gen' has seemed to be getting closer to a major breakthrough in the past 12 months, with Zverev, Khachanov, Coric, Tsitsipas and Medvedev all ranked in the top 20.

It will take something special to stop Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, but the youngsters are at least giving themselves a chance.

Milos Raonic outlasted Stan Wawrinka in a gruelling four-set shoot-out to book his spot in the third round of the Australian Open.

Kei Nishikori survived a huge scare in the Australian Open second round, battling past Ivo Karlovic in a marathon five-setter on Thursday.

Rafael Nadal believes he took a step forward in his comfortable Australian Open second-round victory over Matt Ebden on Wednesday.

It was business as usual for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as they both progressed to the Australian Open third round on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal made light work of another Australian Open home hope as he surged into the third round with a straight-sets defeat of Matt Ebden.

Doubles legend Bob Bryan believes Andy Murray can still have a tennis career if he undergoes the kind of hip operation he had last August.

Roger Federer enjoyed his "cat and mouse" clash against Dan Evans after recording a straight-sets win at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer maintained his perfect record in Australian Open second-round matches, beating Dan Evans in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Andy Murray said he will "probably" have an operation on his debilitating hip injury as doubts emerge over a possible Wimbledon farewell after his spirited Australian Open exit. 

Murray revealed plans to retire at the All England Club, where he was won two of his three grand slams, before the Australian Open got underway due to his ongoing hip woes.

The former world number one said he would decide whether to have further hip surgery following Monday's gallant five-set loss to Roberto Bautista Agut.

Murray kept the door ajar for a Melbourne return next year in his post-match news conference, though the 31-year-old appears to be leaning towards potential career-ending surgery.

"Probably to have the operation," British star Murray replied when asked what route he would take.

"If I had got smoked I would have been like: 's***, I don't want that to be the last match that I play'. But because of the way the match went and actually how I finished the match, I literally couldn't have done any more.

"That was my maximum. My hip was completely gone at the end of the match. I couldn't have done any more. It was an amazing atmosphere. It was brilliant, so that would be a nice way to finish as well. I think I would be able to deal with that being my last match."

Murray continued: "I would definitely play Wimbledon if I didn't have the operation because my hip isn't going to be much worse off after this match.

"My hip is screwed anyway so it's not like the match [against Bautista Agut] is going to make it any worse than what it is.

"If I took a few months off and didn't play, I could definitely get myself on the court to play Wimbledon one last time. I could be competitive. I was competitive here against a top player with very little practice and matches – and grass is a better surface for me.

"Option B gives me the best chance of playing at Wimbledon. The first option makes my life a lot more comfortable and enjoyable, but potentially means I never play again and also miss Wimbledon. That's what I need to decide."

Tributes for Andy Murray at the Australian Open came as a surprise to brother Jamie, with the three-time grand slam champion yet to retire.

Murray potentially played his last match at the Australian Open following Monday's spirited five-set defeat to 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut in Melbourne due to a debilitating hip injury.

Former world number one Murray revealed plans to retire at Wimbledon - where he has won two of his three majors - if he made it through the year's opening slam, and the Australian Open reacted by playing an emotional tribute video on court after the gallant loss.

However, Jamie Murray found the tribute - which included messages from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal - "odd" after his 31-year-old brother hinted at a possible return to Melbourne Park.

"Was it awkward? A little bit yes, because he hadn't said that he was going to stop then, and the stuff the Australian Open put on for him and the players saying goodbye was as if that was him done," said Jamie Murray, who is seeded third alongside Bruno Soares for the men's doubles in Melbourne.

"It was a little bit odd but I understand why tournaments do that because if he doesn't come back then they want to give him a send off and show their appreciation for what he has done. This tournament especially. He's played five grand slam finals here which is a remarkable achievement really."

Jamie Murray added: "It was obviously a difficult week for Andy and for the family, but he had a great match the other night. There was a great atmosphere, great reception from the crowd. The support that he got from start to finish was incredible.

"If it is his last Australian Open then that's a great way for him to finish and I'm sure he'll be more than happy with that. He's had an incredible career with a lot of remarkable moments on the tennis court, and the things he's been able to achieve and performances that he's been able to come up with and the titles and everything that he's won.

"I'm sure he'll go down as a legend in this sport."

Andy Murray is still to decide on potential career-ending surgery, having gone under the knife in 2018, and Jamie is just hoping for a pain-free life for his sibling.

"He's obviously got to go and do his surgery, which is a pretty big surgery to get. Other athletes have done that surgery and come back to do their sport – I don't know how successfully or at what level they're playing at," Jamie Murray, 32, said.

"Bob Bryan's had the surgery that Andy's got and he's back playing now, but obviously it's a lot easier to do that in doubles rather than singles. So, we'll see.

"For me, I just hope that, whatever happens, he can get back to just regular life, pain-free, and be able to enjoy himself and not be in constant pain. If he's able to come back and play tennis, if that's what he wants to do, then I'm sure he'll give it everything he can.

"But I think for me it's just important that he gets back to regular life and be able to do what he wants to do. I hope obviously if he does get surgery that that does go well for him."

Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev breezed into the second round of the Australian Open, while Milos Raonic consigned Nick Kyrgios to an emphatic defeat in his homeland on Tuesday.

Djokovic is the favourite for the title at Melbourne Park and the top seed started with a 6-3 6-2 6-2 defeat of qualifier Mitchell Krueger.

There were no big surprises in the men's singles on day two as Zverev eased past Aljaz Bedene 6-4 6-1 6-4.

Kyrgios fell at the first hurdle in his home major, Raonic firing down 30 aces in a straight-sets victory.

It was a late night for Dominic Thiem, who survived a Benoit Paire fightback to complete a 6-4 6-3 5-7 1-6 6-3 victory at almost 2.15am.

Marco Cecchinato was the only seed to bow out in the men's draw, 92-ranked Serbian Filip Krajinovic rallying from two sets down to beat the French Open semi-finalist 4-6 0-6 6-1 7-6 (10-8) 6-4.

Hyeon Chung produced a stunning run to the last four at the first grand slam of the year 12 months ago and produced more drama on his return, coming from two sets down to beat Bradley Klahn 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 6-4.

 

DJOKOVIC AWARE OF TSONGA THREAT

World number one Djokovic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round two, 11 years after beating him in the final of the same major in their first meeting.

The 14-time grand slam champion is aware of the threat posed by the Frenchman, who saw off Martin Klizan 6-4 6-4 7-5 (7-5) at Rod Laver Arena in the first round.  

"He's another great player, champion, someone that has been very successful in the past, established top-10 player, played a grand slam final," said Djokovic. 

"Just very powerful, serve, forehand, big weapons. I know what to expect. I've played him many times. I lost to him, as well. In this court, as well, in Rod Laver I think back in 2010. I'm going to approach it as any other match.

"Really optimistic, but also respectful, trying to do whatever I can to win it."

 

ZVEREV UNTROUBLED BY SWOLLEN ANKLE

There were concerns over whether Zverev would be fit for the tournament after arriving in Australia with a hamstring injury and then damaging his ankle in practice.

The fourth seed revealed that his ankle is still swollen, but that did not hamper him in a comfortable win over Bedene.

Zverev struck 35 winners and broke six times to book a meeting with Jeremy Chardy, who came roaring back from two sets down to beat fellow Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

 

SCARY RAONIC WAS TOO GOOD – KYRGIOS

Kyrgios was no match for an inspired Raonic, who struck 53 winners in 6-4 7-5 (7-5) 6-4 win on Melbourne Arena

Raonic did not face a single break point, winning 90 per cent of points on his first serve in a one-sided encounter.

Kyrgios was troubled by a knee injury but said that was not the reason for his defeat.

"I actually didn't play that bad," he said. "I actually thought I played okay. I competed well. I probably would have beaten 75 per cent of the draw, but Milos played scary."

Top seed Novak Djokovic sauntered into the second round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets defeat of qualifier Mitchell Krueger.

The world number one was a break down early in the first set, but eased to a 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory in a Tuesday night encounter on Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic struck 42 winners and won 85 per cent of points behind his reliable first serve in a routine win as he eyes a third consecutive grand slam triumph.

The tournament favourite will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round at Melbourne Park after dominating 231-ranked American Krueger.

Krueger has won only two tour-level matches in his career, but the 25-year-old looked undaunted on the big stage as he went a break up at 2-1.

That proved to be a false down, with Djokovic getting back on serve immediately with a couple of searing forehand winners and serving out the set after breaking again for a 5-3 lead.

Krueger earned a standing ovation from the crowd after winning an epic rally in the final game of the opening set, but he was broken again in the first game of the second following a rasping backhand winner from the 14-time grand slam champion.

There were flashes of brilliance from the rank outsider, Djokovic applauding a majestic forehand winner from his opponent, but the six-time Australian Open champion was dictating the contest and wrapped up the set with ease after going a double break up.

Krueger saved five break points in a marathon game to lead 2-1 in the third set, only for the relentless Serb to break in the Texas native's next service game.

Djokovic continued to pepper his tiring opponent with a barrage of powerful groundstrokes and went a double break up at 5-2, then served out the match to love.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Djokovic [1] bt Krueger 6-3 6-2 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic – 42/26
Krueger –  20/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic – 6/2
Krueger –  2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic – 6/20
Krueger –  1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Djokovic – 74
Krueger –  69

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Djokovic – 85/59
Krueger –  57/36

TOTAL POINTS
Djokovic – 109
Krueger – 73

Lleyton Hewitt laughed off Bernard Tomic's comments after the 26-year-old's scathing attack on the Australia Davis Cup captain.

Tomic claimed none of the Australia players like Hewitt and accused the two-time grand slam champion of a conflict of interests.

He crashed out of the Australian Open with a straight-sets defeat to Marin Cilic on the first day of his home grand slam, but made his presence felt in a startling news conference.

But Hewitt dismissed the criticism on Tuesday, telling Channel Nine: "I had a bit of a laugh actually.

"It's kind of Bernie being Bernie, especially after a loss last night and going in and complaining about a few things so for me, I just kind of laugh it off and move forward and obviously, working with so many of the guys as well so I'm still excited.

"The disappointing thing, the Aussies had such a great day yesterday on the men's and women's side and it probably got overshadowed by Bernie's comments."

Tomic called for Hewitt to be removed as Davis Cup skipper and accused him of abusing the wildcard system for his own financial gain.

Tomic said: "I think, to be honest, we have a lot of issues that not a lot of players are happy about. I think we all know who those players are; myself, [Thanasi] Kokkinakis, [Nick] Kyrgios.

"I think once that sort of gets resolved, we'll see. I stand by my call from a couple of years ago, I knew stuff was wrong in the Davis Cup and now guys like Kokkinakis and Nick are not playing as well because they have issues with some people there.

"Hopefully that can be arranged and the best players of Australia can play Davis Cup for sure."

Tomic stated he wants to return to Davis Cup action, but not with Hewitt as skipper.

"It's all Lleyton. I'm going to say honestly, no one likes him anymore. He's doing the wrong thing. He's playing all these matches, I thought he's retired." he added.

"I did a little bit of work with him a couple of years ago, he used to hate Tennis Australia, it's weird, now he loves them.

"I guess he's using them for other things and resources... and for his pay cheque."

Tomic continued: "Kokkinakis, Kyrgios... we don't want to play anymore because he's ruined the system. Go away, literally, if he's retired why are you still in tennis? Why do you still play these doubles tournaments and stuff?

"It's funny all these guys who have got wildcards are under his system, I think like Bolty [Alex Bolt] and these guys, [Marc] Polmans, Jordan Thompson - they are all under his wing so he gets a percentage of that, so that's a conflict of interest, I think that's terrible.

"It's wrong if he's using the system of Tennis Australia and then he's in Davis Cup and he's doing the wrong thing and everyone's leaving. We don't want to play anymore, so I hope he can get moved and we can go back to having a good captain."

Even while slumping to a shock loss on the Challenger Tour in 2005, Andy Murray always seemed destined for greatness.

Then 18, it would be the Brit's final year – his first as a professional – on the ATP's second-tier circuit.

Murray had already reached the third round at Wimbledon, pushing David Nalbandian in a five-set loss, and started to shine in Challengers, winning the only two titles of his career at that level in 2005. Mons would be the location of his last appearance in Challengers, having won the title in Binghamton in August after a shock quarter-final defeat in Vancouver the week prior.

There was no looking back for Murray. Just three years later, he was a US Open finalist, and New York would be the scene of his first major success in 2012.

That Murray would go on to enjoy a storied career – which is set to end in 2019 – was perhaps still in some doubt when he lost to Paul Baccanello in Vancouver nearly 14 years ago, but there was no question in the Australian's mind.

Asked if he saw Murray achieving what he has, Baccanello, with no hesitation, told Omnisport: "Yeah, yeah.

"When I played and won the match, I was like, 'That's a pretty good win, this guy is going to be a great player'. You could tell at that stage. At the time, he was really up and coming, everyone was talking about this guy, Andy Murray from Britain.

"Mark Petchey – he was coaching him at the time – I saw him later on, he said, 'That's going to be a scalp you'll be talking about for a long time' and here I am, 20 years later, talking to you about a match that I played against one of the greatest players to play the game so really lucky. He was always going to be good."

After winning three grand slams and two Olympic gold medals as part of 45 ATP titles, as well as a Davis Cup crown, Murray will exit the sport as a great among a generation of them, his first-round exit in Melbourne on Monday likely marking his last appearance at the year's first major.

A superstar baseliner with every shot in his repertoire, Murray was already producing shocks the year after his meeting with Baccanello, beating Andy Roddick twice and stunning Roger Federer in Cincinnati.

"At the time, his forehand was a little bit more predictable, he'd just hook it cross-court, hook it cross-court," Baccanello, now a physio and developer of Tennisphere, says. "He didn't have that long-line forehand that really made him into a really good player.

"His backhand was ridiculous how solid it was, I could probably count on one hand how many errors he made on that side the whole match. Amazing talent. First serve was great and at that stage, the things that were probably in need of improvement were a little bit of variety in his forehand and his second serve and obviously he fixed those and became the player he was."

Alongside Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Murray – whose troublesome hip is set to end his career – helped form one of the most dominant eras in men's tennis.

Baccanello also faced a 17-year-old Nadal in Segovia in 2003 – losing 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in a semi-final – and said it was obvious what separated the greats from the rest.

"They just make balls that most guys don't. They read the play," he said.

"And the big one was, for me, these guys actually thrived on pressure situations and that was something that I didn't do and I was an older player and didn't do it as well as these guys when they were 18, 19 years of age."

Still, Baccanello can look back on his win over Murray in Vancouver, the last time the former world number one suffered defeat in a completed match on the Challenger Tour. His own career cut short by injury, Baccanello came from a break down late in the third set for a 2-6 7-5 7-6 (7-2) victory. Murray would not lose to an Australian again for almost 12 years – a run of 18 victories.

"In a nutshell, I couldn't have really played any better. I think he was a little bit off," he said. "He served for it in the third set, I got a bit lucky on a couple of returns and actually played a pretty good third-set tie-break. In a nutshell, that's pretty much what happened.

"The serve was probably my strong suit and trying to break him down on my serve, he had an unbelievable return, it was pretty challenging to hold serve for the whole match and somehow at the end I just found a couple of serves that I needed and that's really what got me over the line."

Even with a win he remembers fondly, Baccanello had little doubt where Murray would end up, and he was right.

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