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Aus Open PICS: Nadal, Zverev, Osaka, Barty cruise

Last updated on: January 19, 2022 19:07 IST

Images from Day 3 of the 2022 Australian Open in Melbourne on Wednesday

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Spain’s Rafael Nadal plays a forehand in his second round singles match against Germany's Yannick Hanfmann at the Australian Open on Wednesday. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal put on a clinical performance to ease past German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and reach the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday as the Spaniard remained on course for a men's record 21st Grand Slam title.

The only former champion left in the men's draw at Melbourne Park, Nadal is tied on 20 majors with Swiss Roger Federer and world number one Novak Djokovic, who are both absent from the tournament.

 

The 2009 champion's only previous meeting with the 126th-ranked Hanfmann came on the Roland Garros clay in 2019 when Nadal lost just six games en route to a straight-sets victory.

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his second round singles match against Yannick Hanfmann. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

The 30-year-old German did slightly better on a windy day at the Rod Laver Arena but it was not enough to trouble Nadal, who hit 30 winners and broke his opponent's serve four times in the match while saving both breakpoints he faced.

Nadal needed five match points before sealing victory when Hanfmann sent a forehand long. The sixth seed will next meet either Russian Karen Khachanov or Benjamin Bonzi of France for a place in the fourth round.

Zverev soaks up the boos after beating home player Millman

Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his second round match against Australia's John Millman.

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his second round match against Australia's John Millman. Photograph: James Gourley/Reuters

Alexander Zverev shrugged off a rowdy centre-court crowd at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena to sail into the third round with an impressive 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 win over local journeyman John Millman.

The rangy German appeared determined to belt the cover off the ball through the two-hour romp, and world number 89 Millman was powerless to withstand the firepower despite enjoying rowdy support in the terraces.

"I feel good, I won. I could really feel that you guys have been in lockdown for two years," third seed Zverev joked in his courtside interview of the reception.

"It was really an amazing atmosphere. Hopefully it will stay the same and get even louder for the next two matches."

Now an Olympic champion after claiming the singles gold in Tokyo, Zverev has his sights set on breaking into the Grand Slam club in the absence of the deported Novak Djokovic.

Late last season, Zverev declared himself part of a likely "Big Three" in 2022 with world number one Djokovic and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev.

He certainly looked the part as he ramped up the pressure in the third set, thrashing the Australian into submission with his thumping forehand through a series of baseline battles.

Firing a two-handed backhand rocket down the line to raise match point, Zverev claimed the match with a huge first serve to set up a third round match with Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot.

Having dumped the local boy out, Zverev drew plenty of boos from terraces but said he was happy for any kind of reaction so long as fans could be at stadiums in the post-pandemic era.

"I'm prepared that everybody will hate me after the match," he said of beating Aussies at Melbourne Park.

"Hopefully I'll get a lot more boos... It doesn't matter whether you're for me or against me.

"I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the noise."

Champion Osaka in third round after straight-sets win

Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her second round match against Madison Brengle of the United States.

IMAGE: Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her second round match against Madison Brengle of the United States. Photograph: James Gourley/Reuters

Defending champion Naomi Osaka overcame a second-set blip to beat American Madison Brengle 6-0, 6-4 and reach the third round, staying on course for a potential fourth-round clash with world number one Ash Barty.

The Japanese 24-year-old, who also won the Melbourne Park title in 2019, will next meet 60th-ranked American Amanda Anisimova with a mouthwatering clash against Australian Barty potentially waiting in the round of 16.

Brengle won just nine points in the first set as an aggressive Osaka served superbly, facing no breakpoints, and returned strong to breeze through the set in just 20 minutes.

The 54th-ranked Brengle, 31, had a big smile as the Rod Laver Arena crowd cheered her first service game win at the start of the second set as Osaka's game dipped.

But the two-time US Open winner soon regained control and sealed the win after 65 minutes on her first match point with a second break of serve in the set.

Barty too good for Bronzetti

Ash Barty

IMAGE: Australia’s Ash Barty plays a forehand in her second round singles match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti at Melbourne Park. Photograph: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Ash Barty eased into the third round of the Australian Open with the minimum of fuss, overwhelming Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena.

The top seed hammered 11 winners to wrap up the first set in 25 minutes and was equally dominant in the second, sealing the victory in under an hour when her opponent netted a backhand.

Ash Barty

IMAGE: Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning her second round match against Italy's Lucia Bronzetti. Photograph: James Gourley/Reuters

Bronzetti, the world number 142, failed to muster up a single break point over the contest as the Wimbledon champion lobbed, sliced and pounded her into submission in the bright Melbourne sunshine.

Barty, hoping to end Australia's 44-year wait for a homegrown women's champion, next faces another Italian in Camila Giorgi with defending champion Naomi Osaka potentially waiting in the fourth round.

Next Gen star Alcaraz sets up Berrettini blockbuster

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz plays a forehand during his second round  match against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.

IMAGE: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz plays a forehand during his second round match against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic. Photograph: Mackenzie Sweetnam/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal's bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title may be hogging the Australian Open spotlight but another Spaniard is quietly plotting his own assault on the title at the tender age of 18.

Next Gen ATP Finals champion Carlos Alcaraz moved into the third round on Wednesday with a 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 demolition of seasoned Serb Dusan Lajovic at the 1573 Arena, setting up a mouthwatering clash with seventh seed Matteo Berrettini.

In a sport dominated in recent years by thirty-somethings like Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz is planting the Gen Z flag and having older, would-be Grand Slam contenders looking nervously over their shoulders.

A 141st-ranked qualifier at last year's Australian Open, Alcaraz has come a long way in a hurry, his 2021 season laden with impressive milestones.

The year included his maiden ATP title on clay at Umag, Croatia, a main draw debut at Wimbledon and a sensational quarter-final run at the US Open only stopped by a thigh injury.

"Reminds me of Rafa a bit," said world number 39 Lajovic.

"He will contend for the biggest title soon."

Now seeded 31st at Melbourne Park, he is the youngest seed at a Grand Slam since Michael Chang at the 1990 US Open.

His third round clash against Italian Berrettini will be new territory for the Spaniard in Melbourne, having fallen in the second round on debut last year.

However, Berrettini, who beat American wildcard Stefan Kozlov in four sets on Wednesday, is a familiar opponent.

Alcaraz upset the Wimbledon finalist in three sets in Vienna in October, the second biggest win of his career after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round at the US Open.

Monfils as he thrashes Bublik

France's Gael Monfils in action during his second round match against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.

IMAGE: France's Gael Monfils in action during his second round match against Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik. Photograph: Morgan Sette/Reuters

Veteran Frenchman Gael Monfils rolled back the years with a vintage display of shot-making to thrash unpredictable Kazakh Alexander Bublik 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 and reach the third round.

The evening crowd on Margaret Court Arena were treated to some stupendous rallies between two of the sport's great entertainers and the only shame was it did not last longer.

Monfils, the 17th seed, played almost perfect tennis to romp through the first two sets and although Bublik made more of a contest of it in the third set, and had point to break back in the eighth game, the damage was already done.

It has been an encouraging start to the year for Monfils who recently married top women's player Elina Svitolina and his form is in stark contrast to a year ago when he made a tearful exit first-round exit from the Australian Open.

After that loss to Finnish player Emil Ruusuvuori he said he felt trapped in a "nightmare" as he tried to rediscover the form that once took made him a regular in the world's top 10.

But after taking only one hour and 29 minutes to beat Bublik, the 35-year-old looks close to his best again.

Monfils struck 34 winners and treated the crowd to his full repertoire of gravity-defying slides, trick shots and powerful groundtstrokes and serves.

TikTok helps Keys as resurgence continues at Australian Open

Madison Keys

IMAGE: Madison Keys of the US reacts during her second round match against Romania's Jaqueline Cristian. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters

Madison Keys stormed into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 7-5 win over Jaqueline Cristian as the American continued her resurgence after a year in which she sank into a 'dark pit of despair' and her ranking plummeted.

The former US Open finalist warmed up for the opening Grand Slam of the year with her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament last week and knocked out 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in her opener on Monday.

The former world number seven, who slipped to 87th in the rankings following a disappointing 2021, is aiming to improve on her semi-final finish at Melbourne Park seven years ago.

The American ran away with the opening set in 31 minutes and broke unseeded Romanian Cristian for a 6-5 lead in the next to seal the win that set up a clash with Wang Qiang after the Chinese player beat Alison Van Uytvanck 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.

Keys, who missed the 2021 Australian Open due to COVID-19, had said after her match with Kenin that she had fond memories of her deep run at the major and hoped to have another.

She added that not taking things too seriously and avoiding putting pressure on herself had helped in her resurgence, while social media had also played a part.

"One of the first things that made me snap out of it was this girl on TikTok. Her name is 'Tinx'. She's constantly saying 'comparison is the thief of joy'," Keys said on Monday.

"It really made me change my perspective on comparing everything I've done and doing to everyone around me. It was just making me miserable."

Monfils as he thrashes Bublik
Source: REUTERS
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