Nadal Dominates In Slam Return, Zverev, Berrettini Win; Medvedev, Murray Tues at Australian Open

by Staff | January 17th, 2022, 2:06 pm
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Rafael Nadal made a strong return to Grand Slam tennis Monday at the Australian Open. Playing his first best-of-5 match since the French Open, Nadal dominated former UCLA star Marcos Giron 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 for his 70th career win at the event.

Nadal finished with seven aces and 34 winners, losing just eight points on his first serve in the easy opening round win.

“It’s been a very challenging few months… tough moments with a lot of doubts – there still are doubts,” said Nadal who missed five months due to a left foot injury. “But I am here and I can’t be happier to be back in Australia in this amazing stadium.

“You never know when you come back from injury, which unfortunately I have a lot of experience with, how things will be, so you have to take it day by day. You have to forgive yourself if things aren’t going the proper way.”

Nadal looked on paper to have Australian favorite Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round, but the Adelaide champion was upset in straight sets by qualifier Yannick Hanfmann.

The last match of the day saw Alexander Zverev overcome a break down in the third set to defeat countryman Daniel Altmaier 7-6(3), 6-1, 7-6(1). Zverev had to save set points in the first set, then was down a break 3-2 in the third.

“Not much went to plan today to be honest except that I won,” Zverev said on court. “But that is how it is sometimes. It is the first round of a very long tournament and you are not always going to play your best tennis. It was a good match for me to get into the tournament and hopefully the next round will be better.”

Aslan Karatsev return to the site of his career breakthrough a year ago, and the 2021 semifinalist was pushed to the brink before prevailing over Jaume Munar 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-7(3), 6-4, 6-4 in four hours, 55 minutes.

The Russian, who just won his third title in Sydney, finished with 87 winners to 107 unforced errors! He’ll now face American Mackenzie McDonald.

It ended as a mixed 5-5 day for Americans. Sebastian Korda upset Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. Reilly Opelka was also a winner but Brandon Nakashima let go of a break lead in the third to fall to Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-3.

Other winners included the sleeveless Carlos Alcaraz, Denis Shapovalov, Pablo Carreno Busta, Gael Monfils and Karen Khachanov.

On tap Tuesday, tournament favorite and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev opens play. Andy Murray returns after three years and Stefanos Tsitsipas tests his surgically repair right elbow in best-of-5.

“It’s a tough, tough draw,” said Murray who meets Nikolaz Basilashvili. “I would expect another difficult one. He’s a huge hitter of the ball. Hits the ball very clean from both sides and takes a lot of risks. I need to go out and play another top match to win against him in Melbourne.

“He’s not an easy guy to play against, because he can hit winners from all over the court. Not easy to prepare for that.”

Nick Kyrgios, Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud are also in action.

Rod Laver Arena
Day session – From 11am
C. Burel v G. Muguruza 3
I. Swiatek 7 v H. Dart Q
H. Laaksonen v D. Medvedev 2
Night session – From 7pm
S. Sanders WC v A. Sabalenka 2
M. Ymer v S. Tsitsipas 4

Margaret Court Arena
Day session – From 11am
D. Saville WC v R. Peterson
A. Rublev 5 v G. Mager
S. Halep 14 v M. Frech
Night session – From 7pm
L. Musetti v A. De Minaur 32
S. Stephens v E. Raducanu 17

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