The return of Rafael Nadal and Naomi Osaka to court had been overshadowed by the off-field drama involving nine-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. However, neither Nadal nor Osaka was put off by the saga as they notched up straight-set wins in their respective men’s and women’s singles first-round matches.
Renewing his bid for a men’s record 21st Grand Slam crown, Spaniard Nadal began his Australian Open 2022 campaign with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 triumph over Marcus Giron of the USA on Monday.
On a personal level, I would like to see him (Djokovic) play here.
Whether it is fair or not for him to play here is another discussion, which I don’t want to talk about anymore, said sixth seed Nadal. In the women’s section, the 13th-seeded Osaka from Japan began her title defence on a high as she posted a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Camila Osorio of Colombia.
Ashleigh Barty, who is aiming to become the first Australian woman to clinch the trophy here since 1978, started with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Lesia Tsurenko from Ukraine. French Open 2021 champion Barbora Krejcikova of Czech Republic defeated Andrea Petkovic (Germany) 6-2, 6-0 while Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari came up trumps 6-4, 7-6(2) against Germany’s Tatjana Maria. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka from Belarus also progressed, thanks to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Hungarian Panna Udvardy.
Meanwhile, 11th seed Sofia Kenin of the United States suffered a 6-7(2), 5-7 defeat at the hands of compatriot Madison Keys. In the men’s event, third seed Alexander Zverev (Germany) battled to a 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(1) victory over countrymate Daniel Altmaier while No.7 Matteo Berrettini of Italy beat Brandon Nakashima (the USA) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-3.