This article titled “Australian Open 2022: Rafael Nadal on court after Naomi Osaka wins first round clash – live!” was written by Mike Hytner, for theguardian.com on Monday 17th January 2022 04.42 UTC
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 yet.
Second set: *Giron 1-6, 1-3 Nadal (*denotes next server) Nadal responds immediately a pair of aces, which wouldn’t get you much in a card game, but is worth a 30-0 lead here. He somewhat spoils that opening with a double fault, but he gets back on track to hold again.
Second set: Giron 1-6, 1-2 Nadal* (*denotes next server) Excellent love service game from Giron here, including a simply brilliant final point in which he keeps his hopes alive with a gutsy reach that he has no right to get, before unleashing a stunning 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 through 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. Ominous 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 classic example of his formidable 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 whatever. 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 lead, 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 through 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 classic 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. Boom. He doesn’t lose a point in the opening exchange. Giron, the 28-year-old, faces a tough examination today, if it needed saying.
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 lead 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 broad 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 previously expressed political views the government did not agree with.
Read the full story here:
Here’s Rafa, into the bright sunshine on Rod Laver Arena. The Spanish great plays Marcos Giron, coming right up.
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 through, 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!
Second set: Osaka 6-3, 6-3 Osorio* (*denotes next server) 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.
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 still holds and moves to within a game of the second round.
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 4-3 Osorio (*denotes next server) Yet 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.
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 afford 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 confirms that break of serve and opens up a two-game lead.
There’s a big story over on Court Three, where Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic has caused a stunning 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.
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 deep to stave off a break point. That sequence repeats itself – poor Osaka forehand, break point opportunity, good save by Osaka – before the Japanese finally manages to hold her serve. A big hold, that one.
Second set: *Osaka 6-3, 0-1 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio’s ascension continues with a relatively 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.
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 hold serve and you get the sense she’s settling into life on Rod Laver Arena now. Quick note on Osaka’s overhead game – it’s not been great so far.
First set: Osaka 5-2 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Well, look at this. At 30-30, Osaka completely misjudges an overhead volley at the net – she affords herself a smile as the absurdity of the eventual shot – and Osorio takes full advantage to bag her second game of the match on the next point.
First set: *Osaka 5-1 Osorio (*denotes next server) A big cheer emanates from the sparsely-populated stands on Rod Laver Arena as Osorio finally gets herself on the scoreboard. Hopefully the Colombian can take some confidence from that – and a couple of errors from Osaka.
First set: Osaka 5-0 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Make that a five-game lead. Absolutely no messing about from Osaka in this quickfire game as she lands another ace on her way. This has been very impressive from the defending champion so far.
First set: *Osaka 4-0 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osorio threatens to trouble the scoreboard but the Colombian is not helped by a double fault that lets Osaka back in at deuce. A couple of points later and Osaka is four games to the good and cruising.
First set: Osaka 3-0 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Osaka’s got her groove on already here. She throws down a first ace of the match before forcing Osario into a couple of errors to open up a three-game lead early on.
First set: *Osaka 2-0 Osorio (*denotes next server) Osaka gives an early indication of her power with a couple of ferocious forehand winners early in Osorio’s opening service game. The Colombian doesn’t really recover and Osaka claims the first break of the day.
First set: Osaka 1-0 Osorio* (*denotes next server) Osaka’s first serve is wayward, but she finds her range pretty soon after that and the Japanese takes the opening game to love. A light smattering of applause from the centre court crowd follows.
OK, here we go then. Osaka will serve first. Play.
Ranked 50 in the world, the up-and-coming Camila Osorio faces a big test of her credentials today. The 20-year-old, who is yet to win a WTA title, is making her Australian Open debut and would probably prefer to be facing a different opponent. But here she is. Both players are now out on court, warming up, and we’ll be under way soon enough.
The Djoko-tracker is up and running.
So, all eyes turn to four-time grand slam winner and defending champion Naomi Osaka, the world No 14, ranked 13 in Melbourne this year. Osaka is coming off a break from the game for mental health reasons, after the Japanese dramatically pulled out of last year’s French Open in what was one of the biggest stories in sport of 2021. She will kick off the defence of her title in Melbourne against Colombia’s Camila Osorio with something of a new outlook on tennis.
“I just want to feel like every time I step on the court I’m having fun,” she said at the weekend. “I can walk off the court knowing that even if I lost, I tried as hard as I could. I just feel like for me, I’m the type of person that cared a little bit too much about the results and the ranking and stuff like that.
“And I just need to find a way to enjoy the game again because that’s the reason why I was playing in the first place.”
The pair will be on court shortly.
Maria Sakkari soon follows as the fifth seed wins a second-set tie-breaker to beat Tatjana Maria in one hour and 46 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, 6-4, 7-6(2).
Elina Svitolina is through! The 15th seed from Ukraine advances to the second round with a 6-1, 7-6(4) win over Fiona Ferro. But she’s not the first to book a place in the next round – Camila Giorgi has that honour after the 30th seeded Italian completed a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Anastasia Potapova on court six. Belinda Bencic is also through, a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Kristina Mladenovic.
Hype travels fast. A relatively full crowd on Court 7 has been getting its first glimpse of Carlos Alcaraz in his second Australian Open main draw appearance. The 18-year-old had an incredible breakout year in 2021, reaching the US Open quarter-final and ending the season by winning the Next Gen ATP Finals. His movement, intensity and weight of shot off both wings are all already top quality and it also looks like he has bulked up a little in the off-season. Clearly one to watch this year in Australia.
The fifth seed, Maria Sakkari, is being made to work by the other Maria, Tatjana Maria, on Rod Laver Arena, where the Greek has just held serve to level at 5-5 in the second set. Now would be a handy time for her to break serve. Reminder: Naomi Osaka is up next on centre court.
Here’s more as promised earlier on the Australian prime minister’s commentary on Djokovic, courtesy of our foreign affairs and defence correspondent Daniel Hurst.
Novak Djokovic was deported because he tried to breach entry rules at the border, even though the immigration minister did not dispute the tennis star’s belief he had a valid medical exemption.
The Serbian tennis player boarded an Emirates flight from Melbourne to Dubai on Sunday night, hours after the full federal court upheld the minister’s decision to cancel Djokovic’s visa.
Morrison said on Monday the world men’s No 1 had failed to comply with “the rules”, that to enter Australia that “you either have to be vaccinated or you have to have a valid medical exemption and show evidence of it.”
“It’s as simple as that,” the prime minister told 2GB radio. “This is about someone who sought to come to Australia and not comply with the entry rules at our border. That’s what this is about.”
Read the full story here:
Around the grounds: Canada’s Denis Shapovalov is a set up against Laslo Djere after winning a tight first set on a tie-break while Australian wildcard Aleksandar Vukic has just levelled at a set apiece in his clash with South Africa’s 30th seed Lloyd Harris. Quite possibly the biggest cheer of the day so far as the 25-year-old from Sydney won set point there.
Headlining the women’s draw at the moment, Maria Sakkari is a set up but locked at 3-3 in the second against Tatjana Maria of Germany while Elina Svitolina has been pegged back by Fiona Ferro, who is now serving to level at one-set all. Swiss 22nd seed Belinda Bencic is 6-2, 4-2 up against Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.
The distraction of Djokovic in the run-up to the tournament has been wide-reaching. While focus has been on the Serb’s visa issues, it should not be forgotten that Rafa Nadal now has a golden chance to move out on his own as the winner of 21 grand slam titles – ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer, who are also on 20. There are other serious contenders of course – the Big Three no longer has a monopoly on major titles – but with his favourite French Open next up later this year, the next fortnight could well provide Nadal with a chance to steal a march on his long-time rivals. Nadal is up after Osaka on Rod Laver Arena, but not before 2pm local time, against American Marcos Giron, the world No 66.
John O’Malley has emailed with some thoughts on women’s world No 1 Ash Barty. “Interesting she didn’t play Sydney. It was a clever move as there was a really tough draw.” Also what a week out of the spotlight has achieved is that Barty now, perhaps weirdly for a world No 1, is flying somewhat under the radar. That might change once she hits the Rod Laver Arena court in today’s evening session, but her preparations must surely have benefitted. Will be interesting to see what kind of shape she is in tonight.
Over on Margaret Court Arena, Elina Svitolina, the world No 16 and seeded 15 here, is in the mix to become the first player to book a place in the second round after blitzing her opponent and alliteration lovers’ dream Fiona Ferro of France to win the opening set 6-1.
Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison – as indeed pretty much every politician in the country – has been asked about the Djokovic saga today. More on his thoughts in a moment, but for now, in case you missed it (there’s no way you did), here’s a handy timeline of how the whole Djokovic saga panned out:
Just a housekeeping note – we’ll continue to float around the grounds until Naomi Osaka gets onto centre court, at which point expect a game-by-game report.
One of those in early action is Carlos Alcaraz, the exciting 18-year-old Spaniard who despite his talent is definitely NOT the new Rafa Nadal. He’s 3-2 up in the first set in his opener against Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo.
Andrew Benton has emailed in. “What happened to the seedings with no Djokovic, have they been shifted around, or was there no time for that?” Given the ruling to deport the Serb was made after Monday’s order of play was set on Sunday, the seedings have stayed the same – it’s the same men’s draw, just without a top seed (and with lucky loser Salvatore Caruso parachuted into Djokovic’s spot). So Daniil Medvedev remains second seed, Alexander Zverev third and so on.
Fans are filing into Melbourne Park, but we won’t be seeing packed stands at any stage of the tournament – ticket sales were last week capped at 50% due to Victoria’s surge in Omicron cases. All fans attending the tennis will have to wear masks.
Weather update: It’s overcast in Melbourne today, and the mercury is hovering around the 19C mark. Rain is not expected today, or indeed for the rest of the week by the looks of it.
Play is under way at Melbourne Park
Around the ground, first-round matches have started up. Greek fifth seed Maria Sakari is up on Rod Laver, 15th seed Elina Svitolina on Margaret Court and Denis Shapovalov, the men’s 14th seed, on John Caine are among those in action.
On the subject of the veteran former world No 1, Murray is back at the Australian Open for the first time since 2019, when it appeared retirement was on the agenda after the hobbling Scot. Since then, he’s risen, phoenix-like, and even reached the final of last week’s Sydney International. There’ll be interest in how he backs up when he takes on Nikoloz Basilashvili in his first-round match (not today). Here’s more from Tumaini Carayol:
As we await the first serve of the tournament, not sure anyone would argue with Andy Murray’s summation of the events over the past few weeks: “It feels everything here happened extremely last-minute and that’s why it became such a mess.”
Novak Djokovic is gone but, would you believe it, the world is still turning and that means finally there is some actual main draw grand slam tennis to talk about. After the most drawn-out, scrutinised and lamentable build-up to a major tennis tournament ever, the familiar tik-tok of tennis balls being hit over a net will finally take over from the relentless stream of Djokovic takes on, um, TikTok and such like. Of course, the shadow cast by the saga very much remains over Melbourne Park, and Djokovic will remain a hot topic for some time to come, but at least the presence of the likes of Naomi Osaka, Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty on court today will help return focus to the actual game of tennis.
Osaka, the reigning Australian Open champion, kicks off her title defence second up on Rod Laver Arena, where play starts today at 11am local time, midnight in the UK and 7pm in New York. The Japanese returns from a mental health break with what should be a straightforward opener against Colombia’s world No. 53 Camila Osorio. Nadal follows, not before 2pm AEDT, against Marcos Giron of the US, as the Spaniard begins his bid to to move out on his own as the winner of 21 grand slams, before women’s world No 1 and home hope Ash Barty gets the evening session under way against Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko. Plus plenty more around the grounds throughout the day, of course.
Right, you can drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @mike_hytner. Otherwise, strap yourselves in for day one of the year’s opening grand slam.
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