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Aus Open PIX: Osaka, Nadal, Barty through; Gauff out

Last updated on: January 17, 2022 20:29 IST
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Images from Day 1 of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.

Rafael Nadal

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his first round singles match against Marcos Giron of United States during day one of the 2022 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal launched his bid for a record 21st Grand Slam title with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 trouncing of American Marcos Giron on Monday to reach the second round of the Australian Open.

 

With Djokovic sent packing by Australian authorities and Roger Federer absent, Nadal can snatch the men's all-time Slam record outright by claiming the title at Melbourne Park.

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal is the only former champion left in the draw. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

The only former champion left in the draw, the Spanish great started superbly at a sunbathed Rod Laver Arena, breaking world number 66 Giron five times for the match and thrashing 34 winners past the outclassed American.

Sixth seed Nadal will face the winner of wildcard Thanasi Kokkinakis and qualifier Yannick Hanfmann for a place in the third round.

Zverev digs deep to outlast fellow German Altmaier

Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his first round match against compatriot Daniel Altmaier

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev in action during his first round match against compatriot Daniel Altmaier. Photograph: Morgan Sette/Reuters

Alexander Zverev took time to warm up and had to dig deep against fellow German Daniel Altmaier in his first match of the Australian Open on Monday as the world number three kick-started his bid to add a maiden Grand Slam title to his Olympic gold.

The 24-year-old Zverev defeated the 87th-ranked Altmaier 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (1) under the lights at the Rod Laver Arena to set up a second round meeting against Australian John Millman.

"Not much went to plan today to be honest except that I won," Zverev said in his on-court interview. "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."

Zverev won the men's singles gold in Tokyo in 2021 during a season which has by far been the best of his career. He also picked up five other titles during the year, including two Masters 1000 trophies and the season-ending ATP Finals.

The 2020 US Open finalist showed his frustration on occasions with double faults but was otherwise solid in his service games, facing only a single breakpoint in the entire match - which Altmaier converted to lead the third set briefly.

Zverev, who hit 14 aces and committed six double faults, soon got the break back and then had four match points on his opponent's serve at 6-5.

Altmaier saved them all to force a tiebreaker but the tall German, whose best performance at Melbourne Park remains reaching the semi-finals in 2020, raised his level to get over the line and sealed the contest when his 23-year-old compatriot found the net with a return.

"I played him a few times," Zverev said of Millman, who is ranked 89th.

"I played him once at the French Open which was five-and-a-half hours, five sets, so ... yeah, he's a very difficult player to beat

"Hopefully it'll be another fun one, and I'm looking forward to being back on court."

Osaka overcomes Osorio obstacle

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka celebrates a point during her first round match against Camila Osorio of Colombia. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Defending champion Naomi Osaka overcame an unexpectedly stiff challenge from Colombian Camila Osorio to reach the second round of the Australian Open 6-3, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

The Japanese former world number one looked all business as she raced to a 5-0 lead in the opening set but a first hold of serve invigorated Osorio, who then started chasing down everything Osaka threw at her.

IMAGE: Naomi Osaka serves during her first round match. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Osaka needed to save two break points to hold serve for the first set and faced two more in the second stanza before overpowering the inexperienced world number 50 with her aggressive shots from the baseline.

"It always feels special to come back here," said the 13th seed, who will next face Dayana Yastremska or Madison Brengle as she seeks her third Melbourne Park title.

"I thought she played amazing. Overall I'm just happy to be here, I'm happy to see everybody in the audience and I hope we gave you a great performance."

Barty hammers Tsurenko to reach second round

IMAGE: Ash Barty plays a forehand in her first round singles match against Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

World number one Ash Barty launched her Australian Open campaign with a 6-0, 6-1 demolition of Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko on Monday.

The home hero has been in rollicking form this season, capturing the Adelaide International title in the leadup, and carried it into her twilight match against the hapless Tsurenko at Rod Laver Arena.

Barty squandered two match points that would have handed Tsurenko the dreaded double-bagel and another two as she served for the match, but the Australian finally sealed it with a booming serve down the 'T'.

Barty will play Italian qualifier Lucia Bronzetti for a place in the third round.

Gauff bows out in first round

IMAGE: Coco Gauff reacts during her first round match against China's Wang Qiang. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

American teenager Coco Gauff crashed out of the Australian Open in the opening round after an error-strewn performance against China's Wang Qiang as the 18th seed lost 6-4, 6-2 on Monday.

Gauff shot to fame as a 15-year-old when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2019 on her Grand Slam debut. She also reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 2020 before making the French Open quarter-finals last year.

The 17-year-old Gauff made 38 unforced errors to lose in 73 minutes against the 110th-ranked Chinese, who knocked Serena Williams out of the Australian Open two years ago to reach the fourth round.

"I don't know if it was just an off day or just getting used to it (conditions)," said Gauff, who had won her previous two meetings against former world number 12 Wang.

"Today I came into the match and the first couple of games, even though they were close, I was making more errors than I was used to.

"Just everything disappointed me about today. I feel in the pre-season, I worked really hard, and I felt like I was ready to have a good run here. Today I just didn't perform well.

"I didn't play as free as I normally do today. I think I was playing a little bit tighter than normal."

IMAGE: China's Wang Qiang had knocked Serena Williams out of the Australian Open two years ago to reach the fourth round. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Seven-times major winner Mats Wilander said Gauff needs to be better tactically.

"For her to be a future Grand Slam champion, the pressure is starting to build, but she still has many, many years before she is going to get to her best," Eurosport expert Wilander said.

"But she has to learn now to figure out her opponent and all the things she needs to do to make her opponent worse. You can't always be perfect."

Keys edges out 2020 winner Kenin

IMAGE: Madison Keys celebrates winning her first round match against Sofia Kenin. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

American Madison Keys relied on her big serve on key points to beat 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 7-6(2), 7-5 on John Cain Arena on Monday and reach the second round of the year's first Grand Slam.

Former US Open runner-up Keys, who won her first trophy since 2019 at the Adelaide International 2 warm-up tournament last week, struggled to gain the upper hand in the contest before sealing the opening set in a tiebreak with her eighth ace.

In a see-sawing second set, American Kenin conceded a decisive break to allow her opponent to go up 6-5 and, although she saved two match-points, was unable to prevent Keys closing out the victory on her serve.

Kenin has won her only Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park and has otherwise struggled to raise her game at majors, losing to Keys in straight sets in their last encounter at the US Open three years ago.

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