Little-known Spaniard to play Dimitrov for last eight berth

Quietly, away from transfixed local eyes enthusing over a rising young teenage star, a little known Spaniard defeated a very well-known Argentinian, the man who is a by-word for ''sneaky dark horse'' at every grand slam tournament: Juan Martin del Potro.

That was Thursday. On local television Benoit Paire almost apologetically defeated the cramped-to-a-standstill Nick Kyrgios, while before only a smattering of fans and the mild interest of the world's media, the anonymous Roberto Bautista Agut downed Delpo.

In seven matches against a top 10 player, Bautista Agut had not won one of the encounters, until he beat Delpo. Then on Saturday he confronted the slightly better known (because he played a previously unknown Australian kid on national TV) Paire and did it again.

The 25-year-old Bautista Agut, who at No.61 in the world after peaking at 48 two years ago, has said he has been happy to keep his ranking inside the top 100, took on the 27th seed and beat him.

It was a surprise of sorts due to their mild rankings disparity and the fact Bautista Agut had never before advanced this far in a grand slam event, but he had beaten Paire the four previous times they had met.

Now make that five, and the man known as Bati, who played soccer for Villareal as a teenager, finds himself in the fourth round of the Australian Open and taking on Grigor Dimitrov after the stylish Bulgarian defeated 11th-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic in four sets.

Kyrgios will have looked at the Paire-Bautista Agut match, let alone the closing set and a half of his own match, and sighed at what might have been.

Paire, the villain by default for being up against Kyrgios, became the underdog crowd favourite as the match progressed on Saturday in the third set. Paire was restricted by his leg injury, in a similar manner as Kyrgios on Thursday and could do little as his defeat was confirmed 6-2, 6-1, 6-4.

Andy Murray is a little better known than Bautista Agut or Paire. The US and Wimbledon champion, who has been a finalist here three times, won in straight sets against 26th seed Feliciano Lopez, the man whose name sounds like he should be playing trumpet in a mariachi band.

Murray was pushed but not prodded before winning 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, 6-2. He now plays the lucky, but unlucky, lucky loser - Stephane Robert.

A week ago Robert was not playing in the tournament, now he finds himself in the fourth round. Lucky Robert lost in the qualifiers for the tournament but then won the lucky-loser reprieve and was given a start. Now he plays Murray after he defeated Martin Klizan - another lucky loser who had found himself winning through to the third round. Unlucky. "You know, it's not a dream because I lost in the quallies, but now after I got this opportunity, now, you know, I'm really in the tournament,'' Robert said.

''Except the first match, you know, I was a bit in trouble before the match because I didn't know that I was supposed to play.

"Then the second round and third round I could prepare very well, and I was very solid these two matches. So I'm very happy with this kind of performance."

But, slightly perversely, he'd rather play Murray than Lopez. Lucky, in a weirdly not very lucky at all kind of way.

"I prefer Andy Murray, because Feliciano Lopez, I don't like so much his game … Andy is better, is tough to play against Lopez. I play him one time in final in Johannesburg, and is difficult to play against this guy. He has tough game for me.''

Playing Andy Murray instead of the 26th seed? Some guys get all the luck.

This story Little-known Spaniard to play Dimitrov for last eight berth first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.