AO 2022 Day 1: Nadal, Barty and Osaka ok

The waiting is over and Australian Open 2022 is up and running.

Rafael Nadal Australian Open 2022 ©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Basking in the Melbourne sunshine we have Grand Slam tennis once again.

The blockbuster names are in town for Australian Open 2022.

Here are the major headlines on Day 1 Down Under…

Nadal posts another milestone

Despite five months on the sidelines with a foot injury, 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has burst back into competitive action.

The world No.6 geared up for the ‘Happy Slam’ with the Melbourne Summer Set title and he transferred that form to Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

The 13-time Roland-Garros winner played some cannonball trademark shots to dismiss American Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 for his 70th match victory at the Australian Open. 

“When you come back from injuries, unfortunately I know about it very well, things are always very difficult, you need to go day by day,” mused the 2009 champion with qualifier Yannick Hanfmann up next.

“It’s about staying positive and playing with the right energy. Winning matches helps, last week was very important for me. If you told me I’d be in this position a month ago I would have signed the paper.”

In a retro Nadal-style sleeveless top, fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz launched through to round two. The ATP Next Gen Finals champion steamrolled to a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo. 

Reigning champion off the mark 

Naomi Osaka opened her title defence, fuelled by 19 winners and impressing at net (9/15), with a solid 6-3 6-3 scoreline to dispatch Colombian youngster Camilia Osorio.

“It feels good, I thought I played pretty well given the circumstances, I didn’t have a lot of information about my opponent,” stated the four-time major winner.

“I definitely feel like in my point of my career, it's not long or anything, but I've kind of been weighed down too much of trying to prove myself. I can't expect myself to win every match, but I do expect myself to have fun and challenge myself.”

Home hope serving up success

World No.1 Ash Barty ignited her title tilt with a 6-0, 6-1 masterclass over Lesia Tsurenko in just 54 minutes.

The Adelaide champion is now unbroken in her past four matches, holding serve in 41 consecutive games. 

Plenty of seeds safe in early duels

Sydney Tennis classic champion Paula Badosa soared into the second round. The eighth seed claimed a 6-4 6-0 triumph over Australian No.2 Ajla Tomljanovic. 

Roland-Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, finalist in Sydney last week, laid down a marker too 6-2, 6-0 courtesy of 28 winners to blaze past Andrea Petkovic.

Fifth seed Maria Sakkari posted 6-4, 7-6(2) to edge past German veteran Tatjana Maria, whilst 15th seed Elina Svitolina denied France’s Fiona Ferro a comeback chance 6-1, 7-6(4).

The Ukrainian was joined by her husband Gaël Monfils in the second round. The recent Adelaide International champion sparkled 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to breeze past Federico Coria. 

Italian powerhouse Matteo Berrettini fended off a stern test from Next Gen prodigy Brandon Nakashima 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-3 on MCA Arena.

14th seed Denis Shapovalov was also taken to four sets in a bruising three hours and 23 minutes battle with Laslo Djere

Alexander Zverev managed to win in three sets against fellow countryman Daniel Altmaier 7/6(3), 6/1, 7/6(1).

Elsewhere 22nd seed Belinda Bencic defeated Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets.

Chilean Cristian Garin loves to get embroiled in a long duel. The sixteenth seed was at it again, surrendering a two sets lead versus Facundo Bagnis, before posting a grueling win in just under five hours of play! 

Sebastian Korda Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Shocks of the day

Towering American Sebastian Korda wasn’t able to play a warm-up event due to Covid, but put on a demolition job 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 to brush aside 12th seed Cameron Norrie on his main draw debut in Melbourne. 

Australian legend Pat Cash’s charge Wang Qiang pulled off an almighty shock. The world No.110, who has been ranked as high as No.12, had all the answers 6-4, 6-2 to topple 18th seed Coco Gauff.

Meanwhile, the reinvigorated Madison Keys served up a storm 7-6(2) 7-5 to edge the all-American duel with 2020 Australian Open winner, 11th seed, Sofia Kenin.

French flourish 

Benjamin Bonzi secured his first ever Australian Open victory, punching 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 on the scoreboard over world No.87 Peter Gojowczyk.

Harmony Tan also welcomed a maiden win at Melbourne Park going 6-3, 6-3 facing Kazakh Yulia Putintseva. 

First hurdle finally cleared

American youngster Stefan Kozlov has chalked up his first ever Grand Slam main draw win.

The wildcard had lost 13 times in major qualifying draws, but utilised his wildcard opportunity to take down Jiri Vesely 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. The world No.169’s reward is a clash with seventh seed Berrettini. 

Match of the day 

Aslan Karatsev roared from qualifying all the way through to the semi-finals last year. He’s at it again. The world No.15 recovered from a set and break down to Spain’s Jaume Munar to post 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 on the scoreboard in a four hour and 52 minute thriller. 

The Russian was far too exhausted to celebrate having struck 87 winners and 107 unforced errors.