Australian Open 2022: Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka win openers, Cam No…
One of the biggest stories of the day at Melbourne Park is undoubtedly that of Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic who earlier upset No 30 seed Lloyd Harris in front of a boisterous local crowd.
The 25-year-old needed nearly three hours to post a famous 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (3) win to delight the home crowd who had flocked to Court Three to sustain him.
“It was one of the loudest atmospheres I’ve ever seen to be honest and it was all for me, all for the Aussies,” said Vukic. “I couldn’t have done it without them. It’s a dream for sure.”
Vukic now plays Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot, with third seed Alex Zverev potentially awaiting in the third round.
Vukic is cheered on by a partisan crowd. Photograph: Bill Murray/IPS/REX/Shutterstock
But it was disappointment for another Australian, world No 49 James Duckworth, who led two sets to one but ultimately lost 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 loss to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
And in the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka knows the identity of her next opponent after Madison Brengle moved past Dayana Yastremska, who retired from their clash with the American on the cusp of victory. Another American, Coco Gauff, the 18th seed, is under way against Chinese qualifier Qiang Wang. And twice former champion, Vika Azarenka, is also by, having just won match point to obtain a 6-3, 6-1 win over Panna Udvardy.
in other places in the men’s draw, Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini made a slow start before finding his rhythm to get past unseeded Brandon Nakashima of the US 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-3 . Poland’s 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz needed just three sets to beat Egor Gerasimov of Belarus and move by. Karen Khachanov, the 28th seed, joined the pair in the second round after beating Denis Kudla in four sets.
Okey dokey, that’s Rod Laver Arena action done and dusted for the opening daytime session. Next up, it’s Ash Barty in the first match of the night session, starting in a tick under two hours.
So, let’s get up to speed with what’s been happening in other places at Melbourne Park while we’ve been focused on Nadal.
First up, a big shock for Britain’s No 1 and men’s 12th seed Cam Norrie, who has been dumped out of the tournament by Sebastian Korda, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. Both players had tested positive for Covid in the build-up but the up-and-coming American was too sharp for Norrie and needed just one hour 42 minutes to improvement.
Norrie can’t hide his disappointment. Photograph: James Gourley/Reuters
Updated at 1.05am EST
And finally on his possible second-round opponent, Thanasi Kokkinakis:
“He always have been a fantastic player. He have been very unlucky with aloft injuries. I am really happy to see him back at very, very high level, probably playing better than ever. So, if that happens gonna be a big challenge for me, but that’s why I’m here, just to confront the best players and Thanasi with this amazing start of the year with semi-finals and title, it is today, going to be a big test. I hope to be ready for it and just enjoy to play here one more time.”
And on how a recent bout of Covid has impacted him:
“I don’t know. I don’t know if sometimes you are a little more tighter because of it or because I haven’t been on the tour for the last six months. It’s difficult to know exactly, but yeah, the symptoms haven’t been nice. I have been four days in bed and then three more days destroyed physically, you know. But after that I started to feel ail little bit better. I was… I had PCR negative after the ninth or tenth day and then I had one or two practices at home and then I game here.”
More from Nadal, when asked by Jim Courier about how close he is to his best level:
“Well, it’s difficult to think about it now, but, you never know. As I say a lot of times, when could you reappearance from injuries that, unfortunately I know about it very well, things are always difficult and you need to go day by day. You need to accept the mistakes. You need to forgive yourself when the things are not going the proper way, because that’s the only way. You know at the beginning the things are going to be difficult. Of course, you will not have the best feelings sometimes on court, but staying positive, playing with the right energy and, of course, being on the tour, practising with the guys and winning matches, for sure, helps and last week had been important for me. I won three matches. I won a title. It’s always beautiful and I think I am doing better and better.”
Let’s hear from Nadal before we go around the grounds for a day one update.
“Yeah, been very challenging months. Not only the last six months, clearly have been tough being outside of the competition but since the first lockdown in 2020.
“Everybody knows I have important injury in my foot since the beginning of my career but I was able to manage or or less well but is by that… After that two months being at home, when I came back, I been very challenging since that. I was able to play at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, but honestly have been, yeah, very tough moments, of course with a lot of doubt and nevertheless doubt, but here I am and I can’t be happier, to be back here in Australia in this amazing stadium, it’s just fantastic for me. It method a lot.”
Game, set and match Nadal!
Giron 1-6, 4-6, 2-6 Nadal Nadal digs himself out of a little hole he makes for himself with a sloppy overhead volley that sees him fall to 0-30 before he is forced to save break point with a thunderbolt ace. But dig he does and progress to the second round he does, in straight sets, and in pretty comfortable fact.
Updated at 12.44am EST
Second set: Giron 1-6, 4-6, 2-5 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Nadal hits a peach of a forehand down the line to kick things off before both players have the crowd in raptures as each keeps the point alive with various displays of athleticism. Rafa is called out on the next two points allowing Giron to hang in there – for now. Nadal will serve for the match.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 4-6, 1-5 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal in a hurry. He holds serve to love and this one’s over shortly.
Meanwhile, more Djokovic-dodging from a post-match press conference, this time from Naomi Osaka (expertly done, in my opinion):
Question: Do you believe Djokovic should be playing at the Australian OPen this year?
Osaka: Is my opinion going to help anything?
Question: Asking what othere players think of the situation.
Osaka: Yeah, I’ll kind of pass on that. Thanks, though.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 4-6, 1-4 Nadal* (*denotes next server) At the receiving end, Nadal is hidden in shadow until he emerges into the sunshine with menace, more often than not with a booming forehand return. Giron gets back into the game after falling 0-30 down with a thrilling point, but he can’t sustain the reappearance and Nadal breaks however again. He’s now just two games away from the match.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 4-6, 1-3 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal is in total control nevertheless, already if a fantastic Giron forehand winner at 40-0 up elicits a “bravo” from the Spaniard. Another service game collected.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 4-6, 1-2 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Giron faces a mountain to climb here now, but this is better from the American. He was in danger of being blown away but he digs in to keep up serve. It’s not as simple as Nadal’s last keep up, but it’s a keep up nevertheless.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 4-6, 0-2 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal appears to wants this one over with as quickly as possible. He races by his next service game, firing down two aces and winning it to love.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 4-6, 0-1 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Nadal emerges from the sheds after a quick costume change at the break box fresh and raring to go. And he continues where he left off, breaking in the first game of the third set to seize an early advantage.
Updated at 12.16am EST
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 4-6 Nadal (*denotes next server) Serving for the second set, Nadal errs with a double fault to open. But there will be no stopping the sixth seed and he roars to a two-set rule. He wraps it up in 49 minutes and from here it appears to be a matter of how long Giron can delay the unavoidable.
Injury news: women’s third seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia has withdrawn from the tournament with a back injury. Her place in the draw has gone to Irina Bara, who takes on Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 4-5 Nadal* (*denotes next server) There it is again, Nadal’s forehand. Giron makes a crucial error – he drops it short and Nadal is allowed to weigh up his shot before whipping another winner back past his opponent. That brings up the first of two set points which, credit to Giron, are both saved. The game goes to four deuces in total and Nadal has another two set points – both of which are also wasted, to the disappointment of the Spaniard, who shakes his head – before Giron holds serve in what proves to be a huge game. Hanging tough.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 3-5 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal wobbles slightly this game but he can always rely on his forehand – at 40-30 he just opens up his body and whips another winner into the corner of the court, leaving Giron little to no chance of reaching the ball, let alone returning it.
Nadal hits a forehand. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Updated at 11.58pm EST
Second set: Giron 1-6, 3-4 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Back to current events on Rod Laver and Giron is nevertheless in this second set after another service keep up.
Day two order of play released
Third seed Garbine Mugaruza kicks off things on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday with men’s second seed and the highest seeded player remaining in the tournament, Daniil Medvedev, to open his campaign during the day session. In the evening, women’s second seed Aryna Sabalenka and Stefanos Tsitsipas, seeded four, grace centre court.
Alex de Minaur and Emma Radacanu headline what looks to be an entertaining evening on Margaret Court Arena, while an Andy Murray-Nick Kyrgios double-header is not to be missed on John Cain Arena.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 2-4 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal holds to love in double-quick time. Tuesday’s order of play has been released….
Second set: Giron 1-6, 2-3 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Giron’s serve continues to fire and he lands his second ace of the day. The American’s not going anywhere just however.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 1-3 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal responds closest a pair of aces, which wouldn’t get you much in a card game, but is worth a 30-0 rule here. He slightly spoils that opening with a double fault, but he gets back on track to keep up again.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 1-2 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Excellent love service game from Giron here, including a simply bright final point in which he keeps his hopes alive with a gutsy reach that he has no right to get, before unleashing a dramatically backhand winner. The American takes the game to love and he should take some confidence from that.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 0-2 Nadal (*denotes next server) Bounce, bounce, bounce, pull, tuck, tuck, wipe, wipe, bounce, bounce, serve. Nadal goes by the motions each point, as Giron manages to force the game to a deuce and then to a break point – his first of the day. He’s out though and he’s not going to get another chance from Nadal this game. Some wonderfully soft hands at the net from the sixth seed brings up game point soon after and when Giron’s sliced backhand finds the net, that’s that.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 0-1 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Nadal is motoring. He’s moving very well and at the moment Giron doesn’t have much of an answer. Nadal picks up in the first game of the second set where he left off in the first and he breaks at the first time of asking to claim an early advantage.
First set: *Giron 1-6 Nadal (*denotes next server) It takes Nadal just 24 minutes to safely tuck the opening set into his back pocket. threatening stuff from the Spaniard. Eight winners to Giron’s three, 27 total points won to the American’s 10.
First set: Giron 1-5 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Giron finds himself in trouble now as Nadal literally and figuratively begins to flex his muscles. The former world No 1 secures a double break, sealing the game off the back of two terrific winners – the second a typical example of his great forehand.
Gael Monfils was asked about Novak Djokovic in his press conference earlier. The French 17th seed was not particularly interested in answering.
Question: What are your thoughts on how the whole Djokovic situation unfolded?
Monfils: To be honest, I just think about the tournament now.
Question: What about the opportunity that his absence creates for other players?
Monfils: To be honest, it’s great for you guys. I don’t know. I don’t see any opportunity. You have opportunity to play a match after each win. I don’t know where he was in the draw, who got the opportunities or at any rate. You know me, I’m just happy to have another opportunity to win another match, maybe go to another third one in the Australian Open.
First set: *Giron 1-4 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal consolidates that break with ease. No dramas at all for the sixth seed.
First set: Giron 1-3 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Giron is holding his own this game as he takes a 40-15 rule, but his concentration slips and when he’s long at deuce, Nadal has a great chance to break. Again, Giron probably thinks he’s won the point with an excellent drop volley that has Nadal scrambling, but you just can’t write off the Spaniard and he reaches it before responding with an incredibly deft backhand. The first break of the match goes Nadal’s way!
First set: *Giron 1-2 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal’s familiar serving ticks are in evidence as he collects a second service game, capped with another ace. But Giron shows what he’s capable of midway by the game with a great backhand across the court. On serve.
First set: Giron 1-1 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Giron could be forgiven he’s fashioned a decent point at 30-15 ahead when he has Nadal running across the court and stretching for a ball, but the Spaniard gets there, as he does, and whips one of his typical forehands, as he does, to win the point. The American shrugs off the disappointment and holds anyway.
First set: *Giron 0-1 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal opens in style. Ace. expansion. He doesn’t lose a point in the opening exchange. Giron, the 28-year-old, faces a tough examination today, if it needed saying.
Updated at 10.57pm EST
Britain’s No 1, Cam Norrie, is also warming up ahead of his match with Sebastian Korda of the US – another one of 60 matches being played across Melbourne Park on day one of the Australian Open.
Australia’s visa cancellation regime has been exposed as “dysfunctional and dangerous” by the Novak Djokovic case, legal experts have said, arguing his expulsion is a “terrible precedent” that could rule to “political and populist” deportations.
The Djokovic case has drawn public attention to the so-called “God powers” held by Australian immigration ministers, granting them extraordinarily general powers to summarily cancel visas.
Migration law experts say the Djokovic case – his visa was cancelled because the government believed he was a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment” – demonstrates the laws could be used to exclude a person who has before expressed political views the government did not agree with.
Read the complete story here:
Here’s Rafa, into the bright sunshine on Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish great plays Marcos Giron, coming right up.
Here comes Nadal. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters
Updated at 11.06pm EST
Rafael Nadal is up next on centre. In the meantime, let’s go around the ground, briefly.
Denis Shapovalov, the men’s 14th seed, is by, a winner in four sets over Serbia’s Laslo Djere as is crowd favourite Gael Monfils who breezed past Federico Coria 6-1, 6-1, 6-3. Spanish 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz, who reached the US Open quarter-finals, beat Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Belarusian Ilya Ivashka has withdrawn from the tournament due to a leg injury and has been replaced by lucky loser Damir Dzumhur, who will play Pablo Andujar on Tuesday.
Osaka is asked what it is about Melbourne that brings the best out in her:
“I’m not sure if it’s the heat. I don’t know, I really like hot conditions. I just feel like whenever I come here everyone is so warm and welcoming… You guys are all very nice. I’m sure that has a really positive effect on me.”
Here’s Osaka, on-court with Jelena Dokic.
“Yeah, definitely always feels special for me to come back here. I played the warm-up tournament before the grand slam a week ago. I have a lot of really good memories here. It just feels really nice to start the year always in this tournament.
“I thought I played really well given the circumstances. I didn’t really have that much information on my opponent. I thought she played amazing. She was fighting for every point. I think that’s a really good quality. I’m sure we’ll see her on this court pretty frequently. Yeah, I’m just overall I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to see everyone in the audience. I’m really glad, and I hope we give you a really good performance.”
Game, set and match Osaka!
Osaka 6-3, 6-3 Osorio The sun is out on Rod Laver Arena as Osaka safely negotiates a tricky opening encounter. The final game is not without its drama as the chair umpire is brought into the match. “Sorry, sorry, sorry!” Osaka cries as a fierce Osaka forehand wallops into the chair umpire. “It was hard,” comes the understated reply. She’s OK to continue and it doesn’t take Osaka long to wrap things up. Osorio can only find the net on match point and that’s that.
Updated at 12.44am EST
Second set: Osaka 6-3, 5-3 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Osaka is convincingly winning the unforced error count so far today 27-14. The latest one comes early in this game, but the defending champion nevertheless holds and moves to within a game of the second round.
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 4-3 Osorio (*denotes next server) however Osorio is staying in touch and showing a lovely touch at that, with a delicate clip over the net at close quarters that Osaka has no answer to as the Colombian seals this seventh game of the second set.
Camila Osorio in action. Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA
Second set: Osaka 6-3, 4-2 Osorio* (*denotes next server) I’m not sure if Osaka is enjoying this, but she’s grinding it out and inching closer to victory. Another service game, another game nearer to a place in the second round. Osorio’s intensity has dropped slightly, and she can’t provide that against one of the best players in the world.
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 3-2 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio seals her next service game with an ace to stay on Osaka’s coattails.
Second set: Osaka 6-3, 3-1 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Meanwhile, Osaka proves that break of serve and opens up a two-game rule.
Updated at 10.18pm EST
There’s a big story over on Court Three, where Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic has caused a dramatically upset, beating South Africa’s 30th seed Lloyd Harris in four sets. Vukic, 25, is ranked 144 in the world. Not a bad way to make your grand slam debut.
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 2-1 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio is certainly the more vocal of the two out there – she lets out a huge roar after winning the first point here. But silence soon follows as her serve goes a bit skewiff and three straight double fault gift Osaka two break chances. She needs both but gets the job done on the second. The defending champion noses ahead once again.
Updated at 10.19pm EST
Second set: Osaka 6-3, 1-1 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Another fist bump here from Osorio. The momentum seems to be with the lower-ranked player as Osaka lands a forehand out and the Colombian draws level at 30-30. Osaka’s forehand again lets her down and she has to dig thorough to stave off a break point. That ordern repeats itself – poor Osaka forehand, break point opportunity, good save by Osaka – before the Japanese finally manages to keep up her serve. A big keep up, that one.
Updated at 10.19pm EST
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 0-1 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio’s ascension continues with a comparatively comfortable service game. Very much different to her first service game of the opening set. Indeed this is a different match now Osorio has hit her straps.
Updated at 10.19pm EST
First set: Osaka 6-3 Osorio* (*denotes next server) “Vamos” is the cry as Osario delivers a beautiful backhand winner to bring up two break point opportunities. She’s pumped here! But both slip by the wayside and an Osaka set point arrives after a booming ace from the Japanese. She takes it – and breathes a sigh of relief. The defending champion was made to work then as Osorio found her feet, but the writing was already on the wall. Osaka takes the first set!
First set: *Osaka 5-3 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio has the wind in her sails now – she looks dead and buried on the second point of this game but puts the pressure on Osaka’s overhead volley again and somehow wins the point. She builds on that to keep up serve and you get the sense she’s settling into life on Rod Laver Arena now. Quick observe on Osaka’s overhead game – it’s not been great so far.
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