Can Carlos Alcaraz unseat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open?

Melbourne (AFP) - Carlos Alcaraz faces unseeded Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic as he bids to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday while Victoria Azarenka is dreaming of a third title.

The Spanish second seed has yet to be fully tested in Melbourne but has shown glimpses of his best.

Speaking after Saturday’s third-round match, during which Chinese teenager Shang Juncheng was forced to retire when trailing by two sets, Alcaraz said he was “feeling great”.

“Probably seven, eight (out of ten),” said the 20-year-old, giving himself marks. “It’s a high note. But that’s how I feel.

“I think I’m improving every day. Every match that I’m playing, I’m feeling better and better. Moving, hitting the ball, and, of course I’m getting used to this court as well.”

The Australian Open is doubling up as a shootout for the number one spot and defending champion Novak Djokovic has already laid down a marker, dropping just three games in his fourth-round match on Sunday.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Alcaraz knows he will have to raise his game to new heights to stop the top seed winning a record 25th Grand Slam title in Melbourne, where the Spaniard’s previous best run was the third round.

German sixth seed Alexander Zverev takes on Britain’s 19th-seeded Cameron Norrie in a match that could go the distance while third seed Daniil Medvedev faces Portugal’s Nuno Borges, ranked 69.

Victoria Azarenka, who kicks off the action on Rod Laver Arena, has not won the year’s opening Grand Slam since 2013, when she defended the title.

But with seven of the top-10 women’s seeds already out, she can see a pathway opening up, with the remaining top players all in a different part of the draw.

Next up for the 18th seed, 34, is a meeting with Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska.

Victoria Azarenka is a two-time Australian Open champion

“In terms of my game, I think that people really compare results rather than actual evolution of yourself and your game,” said the Belarusian. “I feel like I’ve definitely evolved as a player. The game itself evolved. You cannot really compare it as much.

“I think right now the level of tennis is very, very competitive, and we have like a deep pool of players who can beat anybody on the given day. I think that’s what makes them more dangerous.”

Also on the women’s side, China’s 12th seed Zheng Qinwen faces Oceane Dodin of France while Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, a former quarter-finalist, meets Czech player Linda Noskova, who knocked out top seed Iga Swiatek.